A Seine River cruise is – quite simply – one of the best things to do in Paris. It was actually the first thing I did as soon as I arrived in the Ville Lumière on my first visit: as soon as I dropped off my bags in my Airbnb in the Marais district, I walked towards the Seine River to board my cruise.
Yes, Seine River cruises are meant for tourists – and there should be no shame in that whatsoever. From the river, you can get magnificent views of the city so it is a great taster of the wonderful days you are going to spend in town.
Head over to my post Where To Get The Most Impressive Views Of Paris.
The banks of the Seine River are even UNESCO inscribed since 1991: that’s how important they are for the history, culture and life of the city.
If you are in the planning stages of your Paris trip and are considering taking a Seine River cruise, this post is for you. I will share everything you need to know and help you decide which cruise is the best one for your travel needs and budget.
No time to read the entire post? Here are my recommendation for the best cruises:
- Bateaux Mouches cruise – a classic Seine River cruise and a favorite of travelers, you also have the option of a lunch or dinner cruise.
- Bateaux Parisiens cruise – another favorite, the ferry in this case is glass covered to give you even better views.
- Vedettes de Paris cruise – one of the most budget friendly cruises in Paris, you can opt for a longer one that has a stop at the Eiffel Tower.
- Batobus – a nice hop-on hop-off cruise that is a great option for sightseeing, and very budget friendly.
Should You Take A Seine River Cruise In Paris?
Yes! Absolutely. This is the best way to see many of the sights in Paris, often with no other buildings in the way. You’ll also get to see them without having to walk for miles and miles and will get to learn about the history and significance of the buildings from the guides aboard river cruise boats.
Another plus point of Seine River cruises is getting to embark on a river cruise at night. This allows you to see Paris, which is nicknamed “City of Lights” (Ville Lumière in French), illuminated after dark — made extra special by the reflections in its famous river.
What You Need To Know About Seine River Cruises
What do you see on a Seine River cruise?
A cruise on the River Seine allows you to take in a whole swathe of Parisian sights. Depending on what cruise you opt for, the sights you see will vary, but generally speaking — on a one-hour cruise — you’ll pass by the Eiffel Tower, Hôtel de Ville, Ile de la Cite, the Grand Palais, Les Invalides, Louvre Museum, Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Place de la Concorde.
There will also often (not always though, I am afraid) be a guide on the boat, offering up a running commentary of the sights you’ll see, giving you some insight into the history of each one.
If an individual guide isn’t on offer, the cruise will sometimes have an audio guide provided (in multiple different languages).
But cruises do vary. The sights you see will vary depending on both the tour you choose and the time of day. For example, those booking an evening tour will see city sights such as the Eiffel Tower illuminated, while in the daytime you’ll see more details.
How long does a Seine River cruise last?
River Seine cruises typically last around an hour. Most of them will be around an hour and a half in duration. An hour is enough time to tick off the top sights along the river, and particularly during the colder months, or when it rains (like when I took my cruise) an hour is probably the preferred time!
Some cruises, however, are longer, with some lasting up to two and a half hours. These may take you further along the river, but may also include additional perks such as entertainment, a meal and drinks.
I will take care to specify the duration of the cruise for each company mentioned in this post.
How much does a Seine River cruise cost?
The cost of a cruise on the River Seine varies considerably, depending on the type of cruise you wish to take.
A classic one-hour cruise will cost around €20, but this can change depending on the season; for example, in winter it’s not uncommon to see prices discounted by €5 or more, and Seine River cruises costing just €15.
Those looking for a longer cruise of two hours or more can expect to pay around €70 for a lunchtime cruise (including a meal).
A pass for a hop-on, hop-off cruise can be an affordable €15 to €20 (depending on the season) — a great way to see the sights of Paris at your own pace.
A three course dinner cruise in the evening, lasting two hours, starts at around €85 per person.
Can I reserve specific seats?
Not really, actually. Regular cruises have free seating and you can sit wherever you find a spot – and also move around for views and photos during the cruise. On lunch and dinner cruises, you’ll be seated at a table but you can’t specifically pick one.
Can a disabled traveler go on a Seine River cruise?
Absolutely! Most Seine River cruises are accessible to passengers with reduced mobility and on wheelchair, with step-free access and disabled / wheel accessible toilets available in some (though not all) boats and – where they are not – in the docking area.
Don’t worry: I will specify which companies are fully accessible, and the ones which require a bit more work to access.
Can I bring my pet on board?
All companies will allow guide dogs on board, and some such as the Vedettes du Pont Neuf will also allow small animals as long as they are on a leash or in a basket. Pets other than guide dogs are never allowed on lunch and dinner cruises.
Do boats have toilets?
Most boats that ply the Seine River do have toilets. In any case, there usually are toilets right by the docking area available for passengers’ use.
The Best Seine River Cruise Options
One of the leading boat tour companies that provide cruises along the River Seine is Bateaux Mouches. Literally translating to “Fly Boats”, their various boats have been plying not only the Seine but the canals of Paris since 1949.
The boats used by Bateaux Mouches are large and feature an open upper deck and an enclosed lower deck. The company has a selection of different River Seine cruise options for visitors to the city, including the classic one-hour cruise, as well as lunch and dinner cruises on their specialized dining vessels.
These restaurant boats are specifically designed with tables clustered around large windows, so passengers are able to get wide views of city sights as they dine; they’re also often accompanied by live music.
Bateaux Mouches boats offer tours in all weathers, thanks to heating, making this still a pleasant option in the winter months.
Cruises on the Bateaux Mouches start at just €15 for the most basic sightseeing one, but the lunch and dinner cruises are more expensive and up to €100.
The cruise lasts little over one hour, leaving from Pont de l’Alma in the 8th arrondissement. There’s no live guide on board but there is a narration in various languages (of course, English is one of them) and hand outs are provided to all passengers.
Bateaux Mouches cruises are also wheelchair accessible – just the bottom floor though, not the second one which remains not accessible to passengers on wheelchairs. There are no accessible toilets on board but you will find them in the docking area.
You can book your Bateaux Mouches cruise here.
For a Bateaux Mouches cruise that includes lunch, click here.
For a Bateaux Mouches cruise that includes dinner, click here.
Another mainstay of boat cruise companies in Paris, Bateaux Parisiens offer up a range of cruise options with a fleet of seven sightseeing boats and five restaurant boats.
The sightseeing boats provide ample space to see the Eiffel Tower and other iconic sights as part of their one-hour cruise offering. Bateaux Parisiens’ restaurant boats have been cleverly designed with glass walls, affording guests panoramic views as they float along the city’s river.
Bateaux Parisiens also boasts the Bistro Parisien, a permanently moored vessel at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
Prices for Bateaux Parisiens boats vary, particularly for the dining options. Mostly, the cost of a River Seine tour in this case depends on where you want to be seated, and what menu you opt for. The plain sightseeing cruise costs €18, with occasional offers for cheaper prices.
The Bateaux Parisiens leaves from the Port de la Bourdonnais, which is close to the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement. Some cruises leave from the Quai de Montebello (by Notre Dame), in the 5th. They make a loop before going back to the starting point.
The boat ride lasts about one hour. In terms of narration on board the Bateaux Parisiens, this vary. Cruises departing from the Eiffel Tower are provided with audio guides in several languages.
There also is a live guide on board in case you feel like asking questions. If you depart from Notre Dame you should have a live guide (also available in English).
Like the Bateaux Mouches, the Bateaux Parisiens is accessible to travelers with reduced mobility and on wheelchair. However, there are no toilets for wheelchair users on board – these are available in the docked Bistrot Parisiens.
You can book your Bateaux Parisiens cruise here.
For the Bateaux Parisiens lunch cruise, click here.
For the Bateaux Parisiens dinner cruise, click here.
The Bateaux Parisiens is also included among the attractions of the Paris Pass – however, available attractions on the pass vary on a regular basis so you may want to double check before getting one!
Vedettes de Paris
Vedettes de Paris is another one of the French capital’s boat tour providers. They’ve been offering Seine River cruises since 1976. The company provides trips along the Seine in quite compact vessels — actually the smallest tour boats on the river.
The company claims to offer up a “warm and friendly experience unlike any in Paris”, perfect for whether you’re discovering Paris for the first time, or if you’re a second or third-time visitor who just wants to learn more about the city.
With the comprehensive list of sights on offer, a trip with Vedettes de Paris is a great way to see a whole lot of Paris’ top sights.
Once aboard, passengers will be whisked along the waterway, passing by the Eiffel Tower (obviously), Cathedral de la Sainte-Trinite, the American Church in Paris, Les Invalides, Pont Alexandre III, Pont de la Concorde, Musee d’Orsay, Pont Neuf, Concierge and The Louvre — to name just a few.
Prices for the Vedettes de Paris start at €19 for adults. Boarding takes place at the Port de Suffren, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement.
The boat ride lasts around one hour, but some cruises are much longer as they include a 30 minutes stop over by the Eiffel Tower and by Notre Dame, so you can get off for more photos if you want.
Most boats on the Vedettes de Paris now offer audio-guides in a variety of languages to passengers, but some also include a live guide with commentary in three languages: French, English and Spanish.
You can also opt for a themed cruise, such as champagne tasting, and a family friendly tour, meaning there’s something for all sorts of different travelers.
Vedettes de Paris boats are now fully accessible to passengers with reduced mobility and on wheelchair, who will also find disabled toilets on board.
To book your Vedettes de Paris cruise, click here.
For a Vedettes de Paris cruise with additional drinks, click here.
For a family friendly Vedettes de Paris cruise, click here.
Vedettes du Pont Neuf
Another well known company that provides boat tours along the River Seine, the Vedettes du Pont Neuf has been running tours of the River Seine since 1959, and also provides cruises along the Canal Saint Martin for those looking for an alternative to the Seine itself.
This company has a large fleet of boats that provide a variety of different river cruise options along the River Seine. These include an hour daytime (or evening) cruise, a champagne cruise, an evening meal cruise, a happy hour cruise along the Seine, and a snack cruise.
There’s also a number of cruises on offer relating to special events, such as Valentine’s Day and Bastille Day.
Prices for the Vedettes du Pont Neuf start at €18 for adults. Boarding takes place close to the famous Pont Neuf. This location is an ideal spot, situated among many of the French capital’s top tourist attractions, notably Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter to name but two.
The boat ride lasts around one hour, during which you will enjoy live commentary in English and French.
Unfortunately the Vedettes du Pont Neuf is not easily wheelchair accessible – that’s because there are stairs leading you down from the Pont Neuf. You’d have to contact the company to make sure that they can arrange a ramp for wheelchair users a bit further from the stairs.
You should also take care to notice that not all boats have toilets. This is the only cruise that accepts pets other than guide dogs.
You can book your Vedettes du Pont Neuf cruise here.
This is what I actually opted for the first time I visited Paris and I thought it was actually a good option. The Batobus is a hop-on, hop-off boat that runs along the River Seine, giving you the convenience to explore Paris on your own timescale and allowing you to create your own itinerary.
It’s a bit different from other cruises, because there is no commentary on board at all, but the views are the exactly the same and it’s a good photographic experience. If you do the entire loop (from your starting point and back) the entire loop will take around two hours.
The boats themselves are modern, with panoramic windows and comfortable seats (180 in total). There’s also an open-air deck and a heated lower deck for added comfort.
Tickets for the Batobus vary. For example, you could either opt to buy a pass for a whole day (24 hours), or two days (48 hours), allowing you to pretty much use the Batobus like public transport to get you from A to B.
The starting price is €20 for a 24-hour pass, and €22 for a 48-hour pass. The Batobus vessels turn up regularly, with departures shown online on their official site.
The Batobus service runs on a loop stopping at the Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Musée d’Orsay, Saint Germain des Prés, Notre Dame, Jardin des Plantes and Hotel de Ville – you can get on board wherever you prefer.
Only the Eiffel Tower stop along the Batobus route is accessible to wheelchair users. If you want to use this as a sightseeing cruise, as long as you board there and stay on the lower deck you will be ok.
But if you can’t really use it as a hop-on hop-off service. Also keep in mind there are no toilets at all on the boat or on any of the docking areas.
You can either purchase a Batobus pass online or directly at one of the nine stops. You can get your tickets for the Batobus here.
Paris en Scène Seine River cruise
For those looking for a high-end dinner experience while cruising on the River Seine, there’s the Paris en Scène Dinner Cruise to consider. Here diners can enjoy delicious food paired with wine and champagne, all while soaking up the surrounding views of the city.
These modern boats boast fully panoramic windows so guests can see all of the capital’s most famous landmarks.
Upon boarding, diners are welcomed by a professional crew, helping you to unwind in a relaxing yet sophisticated atmosphere. Comfortable dining chairs and tables face the panoramic windows, while there’s also an open-air upper terrace when the weather is good.
Meals here are inspired by bistro dining, and are prepared on board by the chef using quality ingredients.
Prices for the Paris en Scène start at €51 for adults for the brunch option, and €74 for the dinner option (without drinks).
The departure point of the Paris en Scène is the Ile aux Cygnes, near Pont de Bir-Hakeim and close to the the Eiffel Tower. From there the boat goes past the Musee Branly, Pont de l’Alma, Pont Alexandre III, past Place de la Concorde, the Musee d’Orsay, the Louvre and Pont des Artes.
The boat ride lasts between 1.5 and two hours, depending on which one you pick. There really is no commentary on board the Paris en Scène as this is meant to be a meal-cruise, but the staff on board will speak English.
Unfortunately the Paris en Scène is not accessible to wheelchair users.
You can book your Paris en Scène brunch cruise here.
To book your Paris en Scène dinner cruise, click here.
The Paris CityVision cruise is actually very similar to the Paris en Scène cruise. Again, the whole purpose of the cruise is to dine on gourmet food and sip excellent wine as you cruise along the Seine and enjoy the magnificent views of Paris.
In this case you can also opt for upgrades if you want a particularly romantic experience – for example you have the option to add champagne and flowers to your booking, or to upgrade to a window seat.
Prices for the Paris CityVision start at €58 per person for the lunch cruise with no alcohol, and the cruise can get as expensive as €155 per person for a dinner cruise with champagne.
The departure point is the Port de Solférino on the Quai Anatole France, close to the Musee d’Orsay. From there you will sail past the most important landmarks located along the river, including the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.
The cruise lasts between 1.5 and two hours, depending on which option you pick. There is no commentary on boat, but you will be welcomed by a host – depending on which boat you pick, it will be in both English and French, or only French.
Unfortunately the Paris CityVision is not accessible to wheelchair users.
You can book your Paris CityVision lunch cruise here.
To book an early evening cruise on the Paris CityVision, click here.
For a classic dinner cruise with the Paris CityVision, click here.
Private boat tour
While there are a fair few tour companies offering a solid variety of options for a Seine River cruise, you may want something a bit more tailor-made for a special vacation to Paris. In that case, you’re in luck — it’s possible to book a private boat tour of the River Seine.
Of course these kinds of adventures are going to cost more money when compared to the standard boat cruises out there, but if you’re traveling as part of a group, or if you want a truly memorable experience with your partner, it’s the perfect choice.
There are a number of different companies that provide private tours. Many of these embark on trips down the Seine, past the classic sights, and passing under historic bridges, while seeing stunning views of buildings like Notre Dame.
The plus point of having your own private cruise of the River Seine means you get to relax in style (and privacy), travel at your own pace, and have more comfort overall.
You’ll also have a captain or guide at your disposal, who can offer up a wealth of information and help to tailor a cruise to suit you.
Tips To Make The Most Of Your Seine River Cruise
Book in advance
Booking in advance means that you will be able to get the best value for money. You will often be able to purchase tickets at discounted prices and compare reviews from previous customers too.
Not only that, but during peak travel season in the summer months, the Seine river cruises can get sold out. Booking in advance means that you won’t be disappointed on the day when you turn up at the ticket office.
Check the departure point and time
This may seem obvious, but you really should check (and double check) where and when your boat tour of the River Seine is departing. It’s all too easy to misread your booking confirmation, or to simply think, “I’ll remember that” and then totally forget about it when the time comes.
A good idea is to take a screenshot of the departure details, both time and place, on your phone or go old-school and print it out to make double sure that you know where you’re going — and at the correct time!
Turning up for the trip early is a good idea if you want to secure the best spot on the boat. Seats that look from vantage points for the top sights will fill up quickly. Arrive early so you don’t miss out!
You also want to make sure you turn up in time for the departure, the boat cruises along the Seine are busy with lots of passengers, you can’t expect the captain to wait around even if you’re a few minutes late.
For some of the more high-end dinner cruises along the River Seine, you’ll have to dress for the occasion. It may not matter all that much really, but you may well feel out of place if you turn up in trainers, jeans and a T-shirt. Opt for smart shoes and smart casual in most cases.
But you should really check in advance: for example, the Bateaux Parisiens restaurant boat option requires diners to wear formal clothing — no trainers, baseball caps, jeans or shorts.
You should also read my post What To Wear In Paris: A Useful Paris Packing List.
If you are traveling to Paris, these posts should help you plan your trip:
- The Best Paris Travel Tips
- The Best Places To Visit In Paris
- How To Get From Charles De Gaulle Airport CDG To Paris
- The Best Paris Hidden Gems
- How To Avoid The Most Common Paris Scams
- A Fantastic Itinerary To See Paris In 4 Days
- Paris In 3 Days: A Great Itinerary To Make The Most Of It
- A Fabulous Itinerary For 2 Days In Paris
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Paris In A Day
- A Week In Paris Itinerary: What To See And Do
- A Wonderful Itinerary For 5 Days In Paris