A Seine River cruise, is there anything more Parisian than that? On my last visit to Paris, I had a chance to make the boat tour of the Seine, and it was AMAZING. It’s a great way to see some iconic sights of Paris from a different angle.
I highly recommend it, for those who want to have a different experience in Paris, or have only a few days in the capital and want to see the main landmarks without actually visiting each one of them, the Seine River cruise is a good option, as you will pass by some of the most famous spots in Paris.
Cruising the Seine River: Exploring Paris from a different angle
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- 💳 Get free access to the main attractions with a City Pass. The Paris Pass.
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The Seine River
The Seine River is one of the most famous and important rivers in France, and it flows through the heart of Paris. It is approximately 777 kilometers (483 miles) long and starts in the Burgundy region of France before flowing through Paris and eventually emptying into the English Channel at Le Havre.
The river also plays an important role in Parisian culture and daily life. Many Parisians enjoy strolling or picnicking along the river’s banks. The Seine also serves as a transportation hub for goods being transported to and from the city.
The Seine River is a major tourist attraction in Paris and is famous for its beautiful bridges and the historic buildings that line its banks.
The Seine River Highlights
The Eiffel Tower, the most famous Parisian landmark was designed by the French engineer Gustave Eiffel and constructed between 1887 and 1889. It was built as the centerpiece for the Exposition Universelle of 1889 celebrating the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
The tower was intended to be a temporary structure and was received with criticism by Parisians and artists, but it proved so popular that it was allowed to remain standing.
The Assemblée Nationale is the lower house of the French Parliament, located in the Palais Bourbon in Paris, France. The Palais Bourbon is a grand 18th-century building located on the left bank of the River Seine, just across from the Place de la Concorde.
The Assemblée Nationale is composed of 577 members, known as députés, who are elected by popular vote for a term of five years. The role of the Assemblée Nationale is to debate and vote on legislation proposed by the government, and to oversee the actions of the executive branch of government.
The Palais Bourbon was originally built for the daughter of Louis XIV, the Duchess of Bourbon, but was confiscated during the French Revolution and later became the home of the French Parliament.
The Musée d’Orsay is one of the most popular art museums in the world, known for its extensive collection of art from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including many works by French Impressionists such as Monet, Manet, Degas, and Renoir. It also has an impressive collection of sculptures, decorative arts, and photography from the same period.
Some of the most famous works on display at the Musée d’Orsay include Van Gogh’s “Starry Night Over the Rhone,” Manet’s “Olympia,” and Rodin’s “The Thinker.” Here is a list of the must-see paintings in the Musée d’Orsay.
It is located in a former train station, the Gare d’Orsay, which was built in the late 19th century and converted into a museum in the 1980s.
Institut de France
The Institut de France is a prestigious cultural institution founded in 1795, it is responsible for the management and administration of many of France’s most important cultural and scientific institutions.
The building in which the Institut de France is housed was originally built in the 17th century for the royal college of France. The main purpose of the Institut de France is to promote and support French culture and education.
Hotel de Ville
The Hôtel de Ville is the City Hall of Paris, the administrative center of the city, serving as the seat of the Paris city government.
The Hôtel de Ville was originally built in the 16th century, but it was destroyed by fire in 1871 during the Paris Commune. It was subsequently rebuilt in a neo-Renaissance style and the current building dates from the late 19th century.
Probably the most famous church in Paris. It is considered to be a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The Notre Dame was built between the 12th and 14th centuries and is famous for its striking facade, which features intricate carvings and sculptures, including the famous gargoyles that line the roof.
Unfortunately in April 2019, the Notre Dame Cathedral suffered a devastating fire that caused significant damage to the building. However, extensive restoration efforts are currently underway to repair the damage and restore the cathedral to its former glory.
The Conciergerie was originally built as a royal palace in the 14th century but later became a prison during the French Revolution, with its most prestigious prisoner being Marie Antoinette, the former and last queen of France.
Today you can visit the building with a tour, that includes the cell that once held the former queen, so don’t miss the chance to see where Marie Antoinette spent her final days.
In addition to its historical significance as a prison during the French Revolution, the Conciergerie has also played an important role in French art and culture. It was the inspiration for a number of famous works, including Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Misérables,” which features a character who is imprisoned at the Conciergerie.
Louvre Museum is probably the most famous museum in the world, and also the biggest, with a collection of over 35,000 objects spanning thousands of years of human history. Louvre Museum masterpieces include famous works such as the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Venus de Milo.
It is housed in the Louvre Palace, built in the 12th and 13th centuries under Philip II, to be a defensive fortress, its remnants can be seen today in the basement of the museum.
Place de la Concordia
The Place de la Concordia is heavily connected to France’s history as it was here that one of the guillotines was placed during the French Revolution. Important figures were executed here, including, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette themselves.
The square was originally known as the Place Louis XV, and it was later renamed the Place de la Concorde to symbolize the reconciliation between the people of France after the Revolution.
The centerpiece of the Place de la Concorde is the Luxor Obelisk, a 3,000-year-old Egyptian monument that was given to France in the 19th century. Surrounding the obelisk are beautiful fountains, statues, and eight monumental statues representing the major cities of France.
Pont Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III is the most iconic bridge in the city of Paris, crossing over the Seine River and connecting the Champs-Élysées with the Eiffel Tower. It was built in the late 19th century and is named after Tsar Alexander III of Russia, who laid the first stone during the construction.
The bridge is very touristy as it offers one of the most beautiful views of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower visible in the distance and the Grand Palais and Petit Palais on either side of the bridge.
This big palace in the heart of Paris served many purposes over the years but was built essentially to hold expositions, shows, and events. Its construction began in the early 20th century for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the Grand Palais is a masterpiece of Beaux-Arts architecture, with an enormous glass roof and intricate details on its facade.
Besides its cultural value, Grand Palais was also the stage for historical events as the site of the first flight across the English Channel by Louis Blériot in 1909.
Palais de Chaillot
The Palais de Chaillot was another building built for the 1937 International Exposition. Its elegant neoclassical design, characterized by its impressive colonnades and symmetrical façade, showcases a harmonious blend of artistic elements from various historical periods.
Its expansive esplanade serves as a popular gathering place, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Paris’ most celebrated landmarks.
Today, the Palais de Chaillot continues to host a variety of cultural events, exhibitions, and institutions, making it a vibrant hub where the past and present blend together.
The Seine River Cruise Tour
I particularly picked a regular 1 hours Seiner cruising with Bateaux Parisiens, but there is a couple of options and boats to take if you are interested in the Seine River Cruising tour.
The first departure happens at 10:00 am, and the last at 10:30 pm. During day time, you can have a glimpse of the routine of the city. On the other hand, during the night, the lights are on and the view you have from the city is stunning.
During the night tour, you also have the possibility to enjoy a dinner course on board. In my case, I opted for the river tour only, as I didn’t have much time. However, I do recommend going for the dinner course if you have the chance, it includes a full French 3 or 4-course meal and drinks.
The Seine River Cruising tour with dinner takes around 2 hours depending on the tour you choose.
All companies operating the Seiner tour offer modern and comfortable boats, they are panoramic, making it easier to admire the view wherever you are in the boat.
During the tour, there is a guide that gives explanations and comments along the way, and for those who only speak their native language, there are audio guides available in other languages.
The dinner usually takes place on an upper deck, which gives you the chance to take the best photos of the city. In case of rain though, the meal takes place inside the boat, from where you will still have an amazing view from Paris, regardless.
Seine River Cruise Tickets
As said before, there are many options that you can choose from when picking the best Seine River Cruising for you, here I will link three of the best options I found.
For those of you who want a short version of the cruise, you can go for the regular Seine Cruise tour, which takes you through the Seine River in a 1-hour journey, where you will be able to admire the most iconic landmarks of Paris from a different angle.
If you want the unique experience of enjoying a meal on board, while cruising one of the most famous rivers in the world, you can go for the Seine River Cruising and Dinner ticket.
In this case, you can choose between a 3-course meal or a full French 4-course meal!
The 3-course meal Seiner River Cruising includes a first and main course, dessert, and mineral water, this tour takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes, starting from Île aux Cygnes to Île Saint-Louis.
But if you want the full experience, go for this full French 4-course dinner cruise. In this 2 hours and 15 minutes tour, you will enjoy a 4-course meal (choice on the spot, à la carte), and a 1/2 bottle of wine or Champagne per person. The tour counts with a photographer on board, the photos can be printed at extra cost if you wish to register the moment.
This text was originally written and posted in March 2017 and updated in August 2023. New information has been added and links have been updated so that it could offer a better experience to the reader.