One of the richest assets the city of Paris has as a tourist destination is its location on the river Seine. Aside from the practicalities of being able to transport goods on the river, it makes Paris all kinds of photogenic. There are bridges criss-crossing the river linking the city’s neighborhoods on either side, and a long walking path along the Seine makes for a lovely stroll in nicer weather. Many of the major tourist attractions, like Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Musee D’Orsay are located along the river or at least close enough to be seen from the river. This makes a boat cruise on the Seine a terrific introduction for visitors to the City of Lights.
Unfortunately, for most of the week I was there, the weather was so wet and cold, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of a boat cruise. Finally, on Saturday night, after a brilliantly sunny day in Paris, I decided it was now or never. I happened to be walking along the Seine anyway near Pont de l’Alma and saw the Bateaux Mouches landing. It was an ideal time for a boat cruise, as the sun would set in less than an hour. So I bought my ticket (10 Euros) for a cruise departing at 4:30pm, as the sun was setting. (There are more expensive options if you want to join a lunch or dinner cruise.)
Was it worth it? Absolutely. The only downside of tours like this is the other passengers. There were a large number of teenagers being loud and obnoxious and unsupervised children running all over the boat. While the former was annoying, the latter really upset me. What would have happened if they had fallen overboard and no one noticed? On the bright side, I noticed I wasn’t the only solo passenger aboard the cruise.
The cruise itself was as lovely as you would expect at sunset and dusk. . . except that it was also brutally cold, thanks to the wind blowing off the water. I could have sat downstairs in the heated enclosed room, but I toughed it out on the upper deck, because I really wanted photographs of everything. One by one, everyone sitting outside got up and went inside. I was one of the last holdouts, but after an hour, even I couldn’t take it any more. The heated enclosure was like heaven at that point.
The Bateaux Mouches cruises are narrated in several different languages (English, French, Spanish, German, and others I couldn’t identify) so tourists can identify what buildings and monuments they are looking at. I really appreciated that at the time, though in reviewing my photos, I realize I can’t remember what some of them are. It was also fun to practice my knowledge of German, Spanish and French during those narrations.
For a different perspective of the major buildings and monuments of Paris, I highly recommend the boat cruise on the Seine. In warm weather, I imagine this would be one of the most worthwhile activities you could enjoy in Paris. But even in winter, it’s beautiful. Just bundle up before you go.