What to do while cruising down the Seine River?
- Visit the Eiffel Tower :Visible from almost anywhere in Paris, the tower has a privileged position on the Champs-de-Mars esplanade on a wide meander in the River Seine. Although impressive enough by day, the Eiffel Tower is at its most magnificent after sunset when hundreds of golden lights outline the giant metal structure topped by a huge beacon. Don’t miss the lights when they sparkle (for 5 minutes every hour on the hour). Easily the best views of Eiffel Tower are from the river, which gives you a chance to get the tower into perspective. The views are especially good from the Pont d’Iéna bridge that joins the tower with the Trocadero district on the north side.
- The Ile de la Cité: At the east end of the island is the instantly-recognizable Notre Dame, 1 one of the world’s finest and largest Gothic cathedrals. A river view gives a great perspective on the cathedral’s size and also its architecture. Notice the flying buttress structure and the 93-metre spire in the middle, plus the world-famous twin towers, home to the equally famous bells and the hunchback, Quasimodo. You also get a good view of the dozens of gargoyles and chimeras that line the roof. A river cruise gets you up close and personal with the bridges that join the island to the city of Paris on both sides of the Seine. Look out for Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris despite its name, and at the western tip of the island, the pretty Square du Vert-Galant gardens, famed as one of the most romantic spots in Paris. (And you have the views all to yourself!)
- The Louvre: Originally a medieval fort the magnificent Louvre is now the world’s largest museum, home to treasure after treasure. The collection of over 5,000 art works includes the world-famous Mona Lisa, and the Venus de Milo, not to mention the genius of the Louvre’s pyramid design entrance itself. Its juxtaposition with the surrounding classically-styled buildings is a brilliant merge of the old with the new.Further down river are the ornamental Tuileries gardens, designed by Queen Catherine de Medici in 1560, and a giant playground for Parisians ever since. The view of the geometric design and long lines of trees is particularly fine from the river especially in autumn when the leaves glow yellow and orange. Perhaps nowhere else gives you a better idea of just how grandiose the Louvre is than from the river. From a boat you can take in the entire building with varying perspective – from afar as you approach and then up close as you glide past. (And of course with no crowds getting in the way!).
- Grand Palais and Petit Palais: The two palaces at this bend in the River Seine – the Grand Palais and its smaller sister the Petit Palais – were built for the Exposition Universelle in 1900. Well over a century later, their imposing glass roofs and stunning façades form part of the must-see monuments in Paris.The Grand Palais combines classical architecture with Art Nouveau in its columned façade and giant metallic glass roof. The palace’s 4 corners are home to huge bronze horse-drawn chariots. The main characteristic of the Petit Palace is its glass dome that mirrors the larger stone one on Les Invalides on the other side of the river. Both palaces are especially stunning at night when the glass roofs reflect the statues inside. To see these glass masterpieces you need to go under the Pont Alexandre III, a deck-span bridge many consider to be the finest in Paris. Where else gives you a better vista of the Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs and golden winged horses than the river itself?
- Musée d’Orsay: Facing the Louvre on the other side of the River Seine is another of the great iconic sights in Paris and one of its best-known museums, the Musée d’Orsay. Originally built as a train station in 1900, the fine and perfectly symmetrical north façade is one of the main landmarks on this side of the river between l’Ile de la Cité and the Eiffel Tower. Look out for the two clocks in the façade; the largest is reminiscent of the clock in the film ‘Hugo’. You can only fully appreciate the splendour of the museum architecture from a river cruise, especially beautiful when its illuminated façade is reflected upon the River Seine at night. And as you approach the Musée d’Orsay you also see the Louvre on the other side of the river at the same time.
Did You Know…
Paris—known as the City of Love or City of Light—is nothing less than magical at night. Don’t miss the views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower at night, when the twinkling City of Light spreads before you.
The Seine is a 777-kilometre-long (483 mi) river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Source-Seine, 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre (and Honfleur on the left bank). There are 37 bridges within Paris and dozens more spanning the river outside the city. Examples in Paris include the Pont Alexandre III and Pont Neuf, the latter of which dates back to 1607. Outside the city, examples include the Pont de Normandie, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world, which links Le Havre to Honfleur.