Cruising the Seine River in Paris: How to Choose the Best Seine Cruise Boat Tour

Seeing the romantic city of Paris by boat is on the must-do list of most visitors to Paris and Seine cruises are very popular. These short river cruises allow you to take in many of the highlights of the city—the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame, etc.—as you float along the famous Seine River. However, deciding on the right cruise may be difficult as there are several companies that provide similar tours along the Seine River. In this article, we’ll give you the details on the most popular boat tours in the City of Light and help you decide which one might be best for you. We’ll also let you know which one we chose and why for our Seine river cruise experience.

Seine cruise boat

Bateaux Parisiens boat on the Seine River

So each of the Seine cruises last about an hour in duration and stop and end at the same point unless otherwise noted. They also all complete approximately the same circuit although you can check for the exact map for each by going to the companies’ websites. Below we summarize, the departure points, type of commentary or narration provided, cost of tickets, how to buy the tickets, and other points of interest about each company that offers Seine cruises. While you can buy tickets for most cruises the same day in-person near the dock, you may be able to save money by purchasing in advance and often tickets are valid for 3 months to 1 year following purchase allowing you to choose the time and date of your Seine cruise.

Bateaux Mouches Seine Cruise

This is the oldest company operating cruise boats on the Seine River, starting service after World War II, and these boats have become somewhat of a symbol of Paris. Bateaux Mouches has some of the biggest boats which are easy to spot because they are big, double-decker open-top boats with orange seats.

Paris Seine River cruise boat

Bateaux-Mouches boat on Seine

Departure Points(s)

Leaves from Pont de l’Alma (right bank) in the 8th arrondissement.

Narration

Pre-recorded narration provided in multiple languages, including English. They also provide printed handouts in 22 languages.

Pricing & Tickets

Adults are 12.5 euros, children age 4 to 12 are 5.5 euros, and children under age 4 are free. You can buy tickets on their website, by phone, or at the dock.

Other Points

Summary

These boats are probably the most popular on the Seine as they are the biggest and you don’t usually need a reservation to get on them. However, this makes them very popular with tourist groups so be prepared to share the boat with hundreds of other visitors. The open-top is great in good weather and provides unobstructed better views than some of the other boats operated by other companies without the extra deck. However, in bad weather you’ll be forced into the glassed-in bottom half of the boat. Narration is provided but it can be hard to hear if the boat is full.

Bateaux Parisiens Seine Cruise

Bateaux Parisiens have medium-sized one-level glass covered boats. This is probably the second most popular company on the Seine.

Seine cruise Paris

Bateaux Parisien

Departure Points(s)

Leaves from the Port de la Bourdonnais (near the Eiffel Tower, on the left bank) in the 7th arrondissement -OR- from Quai de Montebello (near the Notre Dame) in the 5th arrondissement.

Narration

Narration provided through handheld devices available in 12 languages if you depart from near the Eiffel Tower. If you depart from the Notre Dame port, narration is available by the guide in 4 languages (including English and French).

Pricing & Tickets

13 euros to 14 euros for adults, 5 to 6 euros for children 3-13, children under age 3 are free. Tickets are 1 euro cheaper if departing from near the Eiffel Tower. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone, or at the ticket offices near the boats.

Other Points

Summary

If you choose Bateaux Parisiens and don’t have a strong preference regarding boarding location, I would choose the Eiffel Tower departure point as you’ll save 1 euro per ticket and the audioguides are available in more languages. The handheld audioguides are really nice as you have the option to listen to them or not, and obviously don’t need to worry about being able to hear a live guide or overhead speaker. Just note that if crowded these boats can get quite hot in the summer heat, but can be nice and warm on cool days.

Batobus Seine Cruise (well, sort of…)

These are hop-on/hop-off boats that make a circuit with 8 separate stops, all near major tourist destinations (e.g., Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Louvre). The Batobus is not really intended for a sighteseeing cruise but can still be a good economical choice if you also want to use the Batobus for transportation.

Seine cruise

Jess on bridge with a Batobus in the background

Departure Point(s)

Boats leave from 8 different stops near the following sites: St-Germain-des-Prés, Notre Dame, Jardin des Plantes, Hôtel de Ville, Lourve, Champs-Elysées, Eiffel Tower and Musée d’Orsay. The boats stop at each stop every 20-30 minutes depending on the season. Please note that each stop is not always super close to the destination, for instance the stop closest to the Eiffel Tower requires a 15-minute walk from the boat stop. So be prepared.

Narration

There is no narration during these boat tours as they are designed as a boat taxi service rather than an actual cruise. Staff members are on board, however, and can answer questions in both English and French.

Pricing

For a 1-day pass, adult passes are 15 euros and child (16 and younger) passes are 7 euros. For a 2-day pass, adult passes are 18 euros and child passes are 9 euros. Passes can be purchased online, at any of the 8 Batobus stops, or the Paris L’Open Tour Boutique.

Other Notes

  • Website: Batobus official website
  • If you plan to use buses as well, you might consider purchasing a Paris à la Carte pass that allows you unlimited use of both the L’Open Tour hop on/hop off buses and the Batobus river boat shuttle service. This give you access to over 50 stops and these passes can be purchased as 2 or 3 day passes. Check the Paris L’Open Tour bus website for tickets and details.

Summary

While these boats are meant to function as water buses they can still be a good choice for some views of Paris from the river. For some people who don’t want to use the bus system or metro, these can be an especially great and economical option. For instance, a 1 day pass allows for unlimited transportation for an entire day and you can use the Batobus as a bus during the day and then sit back and enjoy the full circuit at night. Just note that if crowded these boats can get quite hot in the summer heat, but can be nice and warm on cool days.

Canauxrama Seine Cruise 

Canauxrama is one of the top companies for providing canal tours around Paris, but they also provide 2-hour scenic tours along the Seine River. The Canuaxrama boats vary a bit but all have a closed bottom deck and an open top deck.

Seine boat cruise

Canauxrama boat

Departure Point(s)

Leave from the Marina Arsenal facing 50 Bd de la Bastille (near Place de la Bastille) in the 12th arrondissement.

Narration

Live narration on board by guide in French and English.

Pricing

The Parisienne Cruise tickets are 16 euros for adults, 8.5 euros for children 4-12, and free for children under 4. They advise that reservations should be made in advance for all cruises. Tickets can be purchased online or at one of their two ticket offices at the Marina Arsenal or Bassin de la Villette.

Other Notes

  • Website: Canauxrama official website
  • The cruise described is generally only offered in the evening.
  • Snacks and drinks (including alcohol) are available for purchase onboard.
  • The company offers a wide variety of different types of cruises that include the Seine as well as a number of other waterways (mainly canals) in or near Paris, however, some of these cruises are not available year round.
  • If you are interested in learning more about taking a Paris canal tour, check out our experience taking a Canauxrama cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin.

Summary

Canauxrama is better known for its canal cruises than Seine cruises; however, the company was purchased by Vedettes du Pont Neuf in 2007 which operates Seine cruise boats. If you are looking for a longer cruise (2 hours) that does not include dinner, this is a good price. It also includes the unique experience of learning a bit about locks as the boat passes through a lock as it makes its way into the Seine. Many people also appreciate the option to purchase snacks or drinks during the cruise. However, if you are looking for just a 1-hour, less expensive tour of the Seine, try another company. Also note the departure point is a bit further from the center of Paris than some of the other companies, but this may end up being great for those staying closer to the 12th arrondissement.

Vedettes de Paris Seine Cruise

Seine cruise river boat

Vedettes de Paris boat

Vedettes de Paris operate smaller sized boats along the Seine River. The boat configurations differ a bit but each holds approximately 250 people for the regular Seine cruises.

Departure Point(s)

Boats leave from Port de Suffren (near Eiffel Tower) in the 7th arrondissement.

Narration

Recorded audio commentary in English, French, and Spanish.

Pricing

The Sightseeing Cruise or Paris By Night cruise tickets are 13 euros for adults, 5 euros for children 4-11, and free for children under 4.

Other Notes

  • Website: Paris de Vedettes official website
  • Paris de Vedettes offers lunch, dinner, and other cruise options with snacks. They also offer a children’s cruise.
  • Snacks and drinks (including alcohol) are available for purchase onboard. You can also eat at the affiliated seasonal restaurant near the boat dock called Terrasse des Vedettes and there is a special deal if you combine a menu and a sightseeing cruise.
  • The boat configurations differs depending on the boat, but all appear to have some indoor and outdoor seating. You can see some pictures on the website.

Summary

Paris de Vedettes offers pretty much the same standard 1-hour cruise of the Seine as most of the other companies; however their boats are smaller than many of the other companies. Boats with top decks allow for better viewing and pictures, but during cold weather everyone will be forced into the covered spaces. Pre-recorded commentary can be difficult to hear, especially near the engine and on top deck if crowded.

Vedettes du Pont Neuf Seine Cruise

Les Vedettes du Pont Neuf operates a small fleet of small and medium sized boats and have been operating tourist cruises since the 1960’s. The company seems to just focus on the basics of providing a 1-hour scenic tour as they don’t offer meals or special sightseeing cruises and offer some of the cheapest tickets on the Seine.

Paris Seine cruise boat

Vedettes du Pont Neuf boat at departure point

Departure Point(s)

Boats leave from the Square du Vert Galant near the Pont Neuf on the tip of the Ile de Cite (within walking distance of Notre Dame)

Narration

Provided by live guides who give commentary in both French and English.

Pricing

The website says the tickets are regularly 13 euros for adults and 7 euros for children 4-12. However, as far as I can tell they always have a discount if you purchase the tickets online from their website. Currently they have deals for 8 to 9 euro adult tickets and 4 euro child tickets. In 2012, we got a similar deal and paid 8 euros each, so it seems you can count on saving money if you buy the tickets online.

Other Notes

  • Website: Vedettes du Pont Neuf official website
  • Two of the boats currently have two decks with an open upper deck, but all boats allow for open-air and inside covered seating.
  • Vedettes du Pont Neuf bought Canauxrama in 2007, so you may see boats with signage from both companies.

Summary

If you are looking for the cheapest tickets, Vedettes du Pont Neuf is probably the best choice. They also offer a great central location if you are going to be near the Notre Dame. If you choose this company, take some time to explore the Square du Vert Galant before or after your cruise as it can be a peaceful little green patch on the tip of the island. Live narration is provided by real guides; however, both sound quality and guide quality can vary.

How to Choose Your Seine Cruise

So there you have it, the details of six different companies that operate Seine cruises in Paris. So how can you use all the above information to decide which Seine cruise might be the best for you? This is a matter of deciding on what is most important to you regarding the cruise. I personally would prioritize location, followed by price, and then narration. After researching the options ourselves, we personally chose Vedettes du Pont Neuf for an evening cruise along the Seine for a few reasons. First, it was within a 5-minute walking distance of where we were staying in Paris. Second, it provided the best prices and we booked tickets in advance online for only 16 euros total for the two of us. These tickets also gave us a lot of flexibility regarding when we used them as they were good for one year following purchase. Third, the live narration was preferred by us over pre-recorded narration although honestly it rained (unfortunately!) and it was difficult to hear the guide during parts of our cruise because of the rain. Finally, we were not interested in any sort of meal or specialty cruise and the no-frills cruises provided by this company was a good fit for us. Overall, we were very satisfied with our choice as the only major problem was that it started to rain during our cruise. We plan to do another cruise during our next visit and hope for clearer skies!

Seine river cruise

Us under a blanket during our rainy boat ride – it was dry inside but cold

rainy picture from inside boat

Rainy picture from inside boat

Have you taken a Seine cruise during a trip to Paris? Let us know what company you chose and let us know your feedback and tips for other readers trying to decide on a boat tour.

 

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