“The Rue de Lancry winds its way down to the Canal St.-Martin, a two-mile waterway in the 10th Arrondissement built under Napoléon. Now the street is modern and charming and lined with small shops, boulangeries, Italian and Middle Eastern grocers, and plenty of restaurants. I like to walk across the iron bridge that lets you off in front of the Hôtel du Nord, which is not a hotel at all but a restaurant and café that’s full of books. People spend the entire day there, it’s so comfortable. The neighborhood is trendy in an unforced way—it used to be rather unknown, but now it’s at a particular moment in its evolution when it all feels balanced between the old and new.
“The bridges over the canal have very steep staircases—they must be very high to allow room for the barges to go through. The ancient locks function as they have since 1825. It’s thrilling to be on top of one of the bridges when the machinery moves and water rushes in on the way to the Seine. You can hear only the sound of the river and the shrieks of children from a nearby playground. It’s a timeless moment—pure magic.”
Atom Egoyan is the director of The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica. His newest film, the thriller Chloe, set in Toronto and starring Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, and Amanda Seyfried, is now in theaters.