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Seine River Boat recommendations

Wondering about Seine boat rides that are perhaps a bit smaller than the usual cruises offered. I was thinking about the recommended Vedettes du Pont Neuf cruise, but wondering if there are other, non-touristy options I'm not aware of.

Both my husband and I really enjoyed a smaller boat tour when we were in Amsterdam last year ("Those Dam Boat Guys"--highly recommend for an informative and slightly irreverent tour!) which was capped at about 12 people. We liked that it was open-air (unlike many tourist boat cruises) had a live guide (no canned audio), and allowed us to bring our own snacks and wine on board. It was fun to converse with both the guide and the others onboard in between the informational snippets.

I will add that I am not looking for luxe, nor expensive options. Good value, please. Something in the evening preferable. It'd be nice not to have to pre-book, allowing for adjusting for un-expected weather, but can rally around a pre-booking if it's worth it (we did pre-book in Amsterdam and had some sprinkles, but it was so fun it was okay. ) Just something a little different if it's out there. And if folks recommend the Vedettes tour, I'm okay with that too--it sounds serviceable. Right now looking at Friday evening beginning of October.

Posted by
2256 posts

hey hey suzanne
there are a few out there depending what you want. 2 years ago we did "champagne tasting on a seine river cruise - bliss. the price went up when we did it
there are other cruises for you to check on that site
this september we are doing champagne cruise (under wine tastings) is another type of cruise on different canals/rivers of paris.
we did a cruise down canal st martin couple years ago, nice cruise for a while but we went thru 8 or 9 locks, takes time to go thru, and ended up someplace we had no idea where we were at, took taxi back to our apartment near rue cler.
don't know your dates or your budget in euros, just some options. enjoy have fun don't forget to stop at cafe for a glass of vino and people watch

Posted by
200 posts

Bonjour, Suzanne!

If you Google "Seine private boats" you will find some other options. You'll have to go through them to decide what is too pricey or not for your budget.

I have done the cruise with Vedettes du Pont Neuf several times and find it a great option. Of course, I usually travel in the cooler/colder months so the boats are not all that crowded or (as) "touristy" feeling then. I don't think they'd be too too crowded on an October evening. I did one in October a handful of years ago and it wasn't crowded (can't speak for now of course :-))

I too prefer the evening cruises and, I don't know about other boats, but I have brought drinks (beer/wine) onboard Vedettes. They even have a little concession right on the dock selling drinks & snacks you may take onboard (or bring your own). If it is not too cold, they do have an open top deck.

If you decide to do Vedettes, you can save a couple Euro buying your ticket online.

Have a marvelous time!!!

Posted by
12154 posts

From what I've seen, the boats on the Seine fall into one of two categories. Sight seeing and dinner cruises.

I'd eliminate dinner cruises because they're expensive and you can get better food off the boat.

The sight seeing cruises are provided by several companies. Of those, I've seen only two differences between any of them. First difference, where they embark. Pont Neuf boats embark, as you would expect, at Pont Neuf. Another company starts near the Eiffel Tower. At least one other company starts at another location on the banks of the Seine. It might be worth picking the boat that's most convenient to you rather than going across town to catch a boat. They all do the exact same circuit and take the same amount of time to do it. I've ridden Pont Neuf boats twice, primarily because I stay in the Marais and they are closest.

The second difference I've seen is the bigger boats (Pont Neuf and I believe the one by the Eiffel Tower) have observation decks on top. You can sit on top for a better view. IMO those are somewhat better than the boats without the observation deck. They're also considerably larger and carry more people (for better or worse).

I'd suggest going at night. The view is up from the River and often not that great. It's nicer when buildings are lit up and the Eiffel does a light show. Also it's a sight that's open at night; you can ride the boats at night without skipping other sights that are only open during the day.

Posted by
12154 posts

There has never been a need to book ahead on Pont Neuf. I do go online, with my smart phone, right before going to the boat. You can save a couple euro each by booking online ahead of time. If you stay in a hostel, they usually offer discount coupons too.

Posted by
3996 posts

There are several St. Martin cruise lines, operating much differently than the Seine boats. The canal, and the boats, are much smaller. Traversing the locks is part of the fun, slowly rising up past the neighbours' apartment windows. One warning, though: About a third of the canal, from the Bastille/Arsenal dock, is through a tunnel, a novelty but not exactly scenic. Going one-way is easy; it just takes a little research to choose a Metro stop near Villette. That can be done here:

And of course the cruise can be done in the opposite direction, ending at Bastille. Lots of interesting stuff around the Villette basin too, including the science and music museums.

Posted by
6332 posts

I'm a Vedettes du Pont Neuf fan but I also enjoyed Canauxrama's ride up the Canal St Martin. As the Princess pointed out, they have some Seine cruises that go farther than the standard 60-90 minutes in central Paris.

As you noted, a downside of buying and reserving in advance, for any boat, is the chance of bad weather. Stay flexible if u can, especially in October. And another downside of a dinner cruise, besides the one Brad mentioned, is the distraction of eating while you're passing great scenery.

Posted by
129 posts

It seems that Vedettes de Paris (Eiffel Tower to Pont St. Marie and back--round trip or one way) is rarely discussed as an option. Is there a reason for this? When we go to Paris next spring, VdP seems like the perfect choice as it's within spitting distance of our hotel on Ile St. Louis.

Posted by
5697 posts

For Vedettes de Pont Neuf cruises, you can book online for a small discount even same-day. We once booked from an apartment on Ile St Louis, then strolled over to the dock and got on a boat 15 minutes later.

Posted by
186 posts

Thank you all for your responses! I do like the idea of the Vendettes du Pont Neuf tour, as it sounds like same day online purchases are very doable, leaving flexibility for any weather issues. Also an open-air option, which mitigates the issue with a larger group. Is their "open ticket" enough (no assigned seats) as long as we get there maybe 20 minutes early? The Pont Neuf departure point is attractive: we will likely be coming from Montmartre that afternoon, so will be on the right side of the city for the boat.

I understand that the boat passes by the Eiffel Tower about 25 -30 minutes into the 1 hour tour. Boats in the evening leave on the half hour, according to their website. The Eiffel "light show" is every top of the hour. So, with a sunset between 7:20-- 7:30 p.m. the first week of October, I'm thinking we should shoot for the 7:30 p.m. time slot to get the best of it all. It would be nice to be headed to dinner somewhere between 8:30 - 9:00 instead of much later, but, is there a reason to go earlier or later? Meaning, any downside to not seeing many of the landmarks in any daylight (maybe some dusk at the beginning, I guess).

Also, to view the Eiffel and its light extravaganza, which side of the boat (and rear or front) is best?

Posted by
200 posts

Also, to view the Eiffel and its light extravaganza, which side of the boat (and rear or front) is best?<<<

If you are inside below, it would depend which direction the boat is traveling when it passes, which would be tied to the timing of the cruise - might be different at different sail times, if that makes sense. I feel like the times I have done it (usually the nearest-sunset time) the tower has been on the port side of the boat as it passed - but again, it would depend which cruise you were on and which direction the boat is traveling. If you are on the top deck it will not matter - you can't miss it LOL :-)