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Paris Tourist Sightseeing Boats

A tourist sightseeing barge outside Notre Dame CathedralCruise the Seine by Bateaux-Mouches

Every visitor to Paris knows the Bateaux-Mouches, the large sightseeing boats that cruise up and down the river Seine, and most visitors seem to take a trip on them! Nowadays there are several rivals to the original Compagnie des Bateaux-Mouches - Bateaux Parisiens, Vedettes du Pont-Neuf and Vedettes de Paris to name but a few - and the public Batobus also provides competition.

These boats are generally large, often seating several hundred people, many with an open upper deck and an enclosed lower deck; some have sliding canopies that can be closed to protect passengers when it rains. The latest boats have adopted a "glass greenhouse" approach, but there are still a few more traditional ones around if you look for them.

Bateaux-mouches have an audio commentary system synchronized with the boat’s travel along its route, providing information on the passing sights on either bank of the river in several languages (individual earphones provided). A typical sightseeing cruise is an hour or so, but lunch or dinner cruises last close to three.

Bateaux-Mouches floodlights illuminate the banks of the SeineMost of the boats are equipped with huge banks of floodlights - and I mean huge - that light up the bridges, monuments and landmarks along the banks so they can be clearly seen when it's dark.

Since the Seine has always been central to the development of Paris, a boat tour gives you the chance to see many of the city's major landmarks and important buildings. Both the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) and the Right Bank (Rive Droite), are always visible from the boat, but as the tour routes are circular, you get to see each one in close-up.

Sights to be seen include the small Parisian Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides (where Napoleon's tomb is), Orsay Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre and of course the many fine bridges which span the river, some of them several centuries old and designated heritage sites in their own right - the oldest of these is the Pont-Neuf (1578) and don't miss the the Pont Alexandre III.

Other waterways:

Several tour operators also run cruises on other waterways in and around Paris. Paris Canal Croisieres and Canauxrama both have cruises along the romantic Canal Saint-Martin, which connects the Seine river in Paris to the Canals l'Ourq and Saint Denis and then goes into the Seine again. The latter company also runs trips on the Canal de l'Ourcq, and day-trips along the River Marne.

If you want to know more about the Seine bridges before you get to Paris, check out this website, which has images and brief descriptions of all the notable bridges spanning the river:
Paris by the Water:
A Virtual Tour of Historical Paris Bridges and Fountains

Some ideas for cruises on the Seine from our affiliate, Viator

Paris by Night: Dinner at Les Ombres, Seine River Sightseeing Cruise and Cabaret Show
Soak up the Parisian 'joie de vivre' on an unforgettable night out, comprising a 3-course dinner, a Seine River sightseeing cruise and an iconic French cabaret show at the Moulin Rouge or Lido de Paris.
Departure Point: Central Paris, or optional hotel pick-up. Starting from USD $255.06 per person

More Seine cruise options from Viator

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