TO SEE the City of Lights, you can hop on the tourist bus, weave through the city streets or take the Metro from one attraction to another. Moving about the Paris is very visitor-friendly that you don’t need to hassle anyone to take time off work to drive you around. You already know where you want to go so all you need is a map. Plan your day’s trip and off you go your merry way.
Perhaps, you’ve explored much of the city on foot, how about admiring it from another perspective, best at a time when Paris glows? Hop on a Bateaux-Mouche to cruise the River Seine. It can be a magnifique experience.
By cruise, it doesn’t mean navigating the entire 776-kilometer length of France’s important channel. The Bateaux-Mouches is the equivalent of a tourist bus on water, two levels with the upper deck al fresco or encased in glass for boats offering dinner, and the tour takes about a little over an hour and offers the views of Paris’ best attractions from a different perspective.
The boat cruises run by the Compagnie des Bateaux-Mouches was created in 1949 by Jean Bruel. It was just after the Second World War that this ingenious man wanted to introduce a new leisure travelling concept which promoted his belief—that Paris appeared to be more beautiful when viewed from the River Seine. His vision proved to be a success, from the first steam boats he started with, the fleet has grown and takes millions of passengers for a happy and educational ride along the famous waterway.
Shell out 13.5Euros (lesser for kids and big groups, more if you want it with dinner) and get on the boat that takes off from the jetty at Pont de l’Alma, the same area where Princess Diana’s unofficial memorial, the Flame of Liberty, stands, and the tunnel under was where her ride crashed.
The cruise departs on scheduled times all day long from 10 a.m. until the last trip at 9 p.m. with additional tours on weekends and the high season. If you ask me, take the night tour, I find it more attractive with everything along the opposite banks of the river glowing against the dark sky.
For an hour and 10 minutes, the tourist boat will take you along the River Seine. With the aid of the boat’s audio guide, your attention will be directed to the important attractions along the way while learning a bit of its history.
From the Pont de l’Alma jetty, here’s what the boat ride will show you.
Starting from the right bank of the river—the Place de la Concorde, the largest public square in Paris and where King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were beheaded during the French Revolution; the Louvre Museum, originally built as a fortress and now one of the largest museums in the world; the Gothic tower of Tour Saint-Jacques is what remains of the16th-century Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie after it was demolished after the French Revolution; Hotel de Ville, the building that houses the city's local administration; and the Hotel de Sens, a city palace in the Marais originally owned by the archbishops of Sens.
Now to the two remaining natural islands in the Seine River within the city—the Ile de la Cite and the Isle of Ile St-Louis.
On the Ile de la Cite is the Conciergerie, formerly a Paris prison; the Palace of Justice, once the former Royal Palace; and the Notre Dame de Paris, in French Gothic architecture, is said to be the most famous of cathedrals and among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress.
Ile Saint-Louisthe is mostly residential with an elegant neighborhood. The island has only narrow one-way streets, no metro stations, and only two bus stops, and connects to Paris via four bridges to both banks of the river.
The boat then makes a U-turn around the iles and the audio guide directs you to the sights on the left bank of the river starting with the Arab World Institute, an organization founded in Paris in 1980; the Institute of France Hotel de la Monnaie houses the administration charged with issuing of coins and medals; the Musee d’Orsay, once a train station now a museum that houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, including that of Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Cezanne, and many more; the National Museum of the Legion of Honor & Orders of Chivalry; the Palais Bourbon (across from the Place de la Concorde), the seat of the French National Assembly, the lower legislative chamber of the French government; the Invalides aka L'Hôtel des Invalides, a complex of buildings that includes museums and monuments all relating to the France’s military history; then to the iconic Eiffel Tower that bursts into a torch of lights every hour every night. The tallest structure in Paris is one of the most recognizable structures and the most-visited paid monument in the world.
For the last stretch of the tour, the boat makes another U-turn at the Ile aux Cygnes, the Island of the Swans, where the 35-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty stands facing its sister across the seas.
Attention is directed back to the right bank of the river and the Palais de Chaillot at the Trocadero hill and the Arc d’Triomphe, which is the last attraction you will see before the boat docks.
If you found the structures amazing, the bridges that you pass will be as attractive and there are several—the Pont des Invalides, Pont Alexander III, Pont de la Concorde, Pont Royal, Pont du Carrousel, Pont des Arts, Pont Marie, Pont du Sally Pont Neuf, Pont d’Iena and the Pont BirHakeim. Guess which of these spans is the famous Love Lock Bridge? Hint: it’s a historically listed bridge in the city and is part of the Unesco World Heritage Site in Paris.
This tour is worth your while. Go ahead and take a boat and see Paris by night from the River Seine.
For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/