Intrinsic to the Paris' growth and the heart of this cosmopolitan city, the Seine river serves as the the ultimate reference point for the age-old Left Bank and Right Bank distinction. On this 2.5-hour Paris boat tour with a historian, we'll learn about the layout of the city and introduce its highlights from the perspective a Seine cruise. This is a perfect orientation to the city for anyone with reduced mobility, families, or those looking to get a city overview at a relaxed pace.
Paris Boat Tour
Over 2,000 years ago, Paris was born as a humble fishing village on the banks of the Seine. Throughout the centuries, the city depended on the river for everything from washing and drinking water to trade and transportation. Even the city's municipal coat of arms, dating back to the 12th-century River Merchants' Guild, features a nautical motif.
On Dry Land
Our tour begins on foot on the the Île de la Cité
, the oldest part of the city and its geographical center. A small metal plaque, set into the vast cobblestone square in front of Notre Dame (which we visit on our Notre Dame Tour
), marks the Point Zéro, identifying the island as the city's historic center. Home to many medieval monuments including the Conciergerie, La Sainte Chapelle, and Notre Dame Cathedral, this ancient city center eventually grew into the cosmopolitan hotbed of arts and culture we know today. Here, we will explore how the city expanded from this central point onto both sides of the Seine during its existence as Lutetia, a Roman outpost. We will also look at the importance of Notre Dame and talk a little about its place in Parisian history.
On the Seine
After this initial introduction to the City of Light, we will board the Batobus, a municipal boat service that allows us to see some of the city's most beautiful monuments built on the river's edge. Taking in Paris' landscape from the Seine allows us to reflect on the city's historical progression from a bustling Roman city to France's political and cultural epicenter. One of the first sites we will cruise by is the Musée du Louvre. Once palace of the kings, we engage with the immensity and splendor of this former royal residence, and may touch on the controversial role of royalty in French history. Now a world-class museum boasting masterpieces like Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People and Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, as well as lesser known yet stunning artifacts, this structure continues to play a significant role in the city's identity.
Following the bend of the river, we will then begin to pass by the structures built for the Expositions Universelles of 1889 and 1900. These elegant constructions were designed to showcase France's progress, and those that remain serve as architectural snapshots of belle époque design. Built close to the river, these stately buildings span a period of over 50 years, the different styles apparent in such buildings as the Musée d’Orsay, the Grand Palais, the Palais de Tokyo, and the Tour Eiffel, bien sur. During the expositions, visitors commuted between the venues by boat, and following their example, we will see these structures from their intended perspective.
"[Our docent] was bubbling with enthusiasm and appreciation for this beautiful city. He showed us favorite hidden spots and an informed view of the traditional highlights. His energy was contagious and his answers to questions very helpful. This is the perfect way to "meet" a new city!"
An excellent compliment to our other city orientations Left Bank Paris Tour
and Right Bank Paris Walking Tour
, this walk is accommodating to those looking for a more leisurely pace. As we float along the river, passing under some of the city's 37 unique bridges, and along the lively banks
of the Seine you can also use your time with your docent to ask any questions you may have about Paris. This tour should provide a good introduction to Paris and prep for a more in-depth discovery of additional points of interest.
Interested in a luxury boat experience? Contact us about arranging an orientation on a luxury venetian cruising yacht.
Is this tour wheelchair accessible? The Batobus access point at the Eiffel Tower is wheelchair accessible. We are happy to design a private, customized tour for visitors with mobility concerns.
When during our stay would you recommend we take this tour? The Paris by Riverboat tour is ideal for first-time visitors and, serving as an introductory "highlights" tour, is best taken at the start of your stay. It is a great starting off point for a more in-depth discovery of additional points of interest.
Will we see the Eiffel Tower on this tour? The iconic Tour Eiffel watches over the City of Light and is visible from multiple vantage points in the city center, most especially the river Seine. We will certainly discuss the history and significance of the tower on our tour, and many experts do choose to end their tour within walking distance of this magnificent site, allowing for independent exploration.
Where do we meet? Where does it end? Generally speaking, the walk begins near the Place Saint-Michel. Your confirmation email will have the exact meeting point details along with a map, and 24/7 phone number. The walk typically ends near the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement.
Will you pre-purchase tickets? Your expert guide will help you purchase the boat tickets on-site. Ticket prices currently are €17 per adult and €8 per child ages 3-15.
What if it’s raining? Tours operate rain or shine, and the boat is covered glass. It also never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
Is this tour good for kids? Yes! We have some excellent family friendly expert guides who can appeal to the learning styles of children. Please book privately if you have children under 13. Feel free to provide us with information about your children such as favorite school subjects, and hobbies. This way we can match you with the best possible expert.
I understand this tour is done by public boat. What if I want a private boat? We can arrange this as well. Please contact us for more information and pricing.