A trip down the Seine on a bateau mouche was always on my reject list – far too crowded, far too touristy and not for me. Until Son decided in his three year old wisdom he wanted to have a boat trip in Paris. So, off we went on a bateau mouche down the Seine. How times change!
We opted for a trip that took around an hour, anything longer (with our 3 year old) would start to veer away from enjoyable and head towards torture. There were regular departures – hourly and half hourly from the Pont de l’Alma, so plenty of choice.
I was surprised when we climbed on-board. The boat was super spacious and quite comfortable. We tried out the seats inside (I think Son tried every single one of them) but eventually chose a spot on the top deck outside. Definitely the best views from here, however a slight downside – these seats are not covered. If it rains you get wet, if the sun shines you get hot. Luckily for us it was the latter.
There was a pre-recorded commentary in about 7 different languages. I tried for about 10 minutes to follow and then gave up and just enjoyed the views. The boat trip was relaxing and enjoyable. The Seine runs through the historic heart of Paris and the urban landscape is beautiful. Many of the famous landmarks and monuments are on the river banks – Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower to name a few – so you see a lot and from a different perspective. We were all mighty excited to see the Eiffel Tower from the river.
Unexpected maybe, but you also see the Statue of Liberty – no it’s not a mirage but a miniature of her big sister in New York which looks in the direction of the Atlantic, symbolising the links between France and America.
There are more than 30 bridges across the Seine, Son enjoyed spotting and counting them. Our favourite was the Pont Neuf, the oldest one of all and close to Notre Dame.
It was fascinating to watch all the activity on the river banks – people strolling, relaxing, reading and playing music. We saw boats getting set up for the evening dinner cruises – I quite fancied that, Paris by night from the river, but Son and a dinner cruise would not have been such a great mixture.
After an hour Son was ready to get off the boat, but a good time was had by all. It surprised me how much I did enjoy this unique view of the city. Now I firmly believe that the bateau mouche is to Paris what a gondola ride is to Venice – a wonderfully touristy but unmissable way to see the city from a different perspective. I’ve become a fan.