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Paris River Cruises: Which bateaux mouches is the best deal?

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Bateaux Parisiens
The Bateaux Parisiens offer a perfectly fine, if touristy, experience. Photo: Fabrice Terrasson

The “bateaux mouches,” Paris’ pleasure boats, are a surefire way to spend an hour or so any evening or night. The Seine is best experienced by night, when monuments are illuminated and feet are generally tired and ready for a break. Originally from Lyon, these boats have been a top attraction for tourist since the 19th century, and it’s easy to see why.

While they’re definitely worth shelling out for, there are a few different options to sift through. Here’s our Cheapo guide to choosing the Seine river cruise that’s right for you… and your budget.

Bateaux Parisiens

With departures from both Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, the Bateaux Parisiens offer the most basic of the “bateaux mouches.” With pre-recorded audioguides detailing the sights along the one-hour trip, it’s a perfectly fine and basic way to experience Paris from the water. Just be sure to go later in the evening or night when there are slightly fewer groups crowding the docks.

At just €13 (€14 from Notre Dame) and €5 euros (or €6) for children, it’s not a bad choice, even if it can feel a bit over-the-top touristy at times.

Vedettes de Pont Neuf

Live commentators add a human touch to the Vedettes de Pont Neuf, which boards just at the base of the famous bridge. Photo: Beckjules

Vedettes de Pont Neuf

There’s something about having a real human commentating that makes this company seem a bit more interesting, even if the poor commentator might still not have every English conjugation under their belt. The one-hour tour offered by the Vedettes de Pont Neuf are a bit less of a cattle call than the Bateaux Parisiens and leave centrally from their dock off the Pont Neuf. While passing by all of the same monuments, the boats have the added advantage of ending up back at the Pont Neuf, smack in the center of the city.

Deals on their website might allow you to score tickets for €8 instead of the normal €13 ticket price. Pre-buy if possible!

Batobus

We love the Batobus for its hop-on-hop-off service. Photo: AndyRobertsPhotos

Batobus

My pick for exploring the river, the Batobus is Paris’s water taxi, taking tourists from major attraction to major attraction. Its eight stops include the Musée d’Orsay and the Jardin des Plantes, meaning you can get off and wander a bit before hopping back on to the next dock. Or just grab a spot on the deck and watch the city go by. You can stay on all day if you want! And there’s no pesky commentary in several languages to distract you.

Tickets start at €15, but Groupon can be your friend here!

Canauxrama

The view from a Canauxrama boat, cruising along Paris’ less-visited canals. Photo: Vikellis

Canauxrama

While the Seine is the main aquatic thoroughfare in Paris, don’t forget the canal which runs through the east of the city, meeting the river by the Bastille neighborhood. The trendy area is worth a visit from the Canauxrama, the slow-moving cruise that passes through the old lochs and even underground, while offering commentary in several languages. Kids love watching the water rush in and out as the boats pass up and down the canal.

While canal cruises cost €16 for a 2.5 hour cruise, online tickets are reduced to €13.50. For further savings, try Groupon, which regularly discounts the boat tickets up to 50%.

Your favorite way to cruise?

Do you have a favorite way to see Paris by boat? Share your experience with us in the comments section.

About the author

Bryan Pirolli

About the author: With his college diploma fresh off the press, Bryan Pirolli headed for Paris and four years later he’s still there. A journalist and a tour guide, his main M.O. is pursuing a doctorate degree in communications at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Bryan regularly travels on a budget, experiencing the best of European culture while still trying to make rent.  So far, so good. You can follow his adventures on his blog: www.bryanpirolli.com.

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3 thoughts on “Paris River Cruises: Which bateaux mouches is the best deal?”

  1. I think Batobus is the excellent way to go. It makes it worthy to actually get off the boat and wander to the attractions you see on the tour, which adds to the overall experience.

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  2. We are considering a Night Tour to see the city “in lights”. Which tour company is recommended? Also, is a boat tour or bus tour better to see the famous attractions at night?

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  3. important Paris post!
    I ALWAYS suggest to my visiting friends a croisiere and often I still go with them because it IS by far the most pleasant and stress-free tour you can take. Just think of not having to worry about the horrendous traffic coming literally from all sides (and that’s not only for the English! – we are being overtaken left, right, on top and underneath, with motorbikes winding through the moving traffic like circus artists and often causing total mayhem)…. You cannot see the Eiffel tower better than from the Seine. You start and end your tour from the most central location you can find – the Pont Neuf!
    I’m talking about the boats ‘Vedettes de Pont Neuf’ and I’d like to point out that IF you buy the tickets via computer, they are ONLY AND STRICTLY VALID FOR THE DAY YOU BUY THEM. That’s the one catch and if you read your text carefully you’ll see – it’s all pointed out. So buy them in the morning of the day you wish to take the cruise.
    The personal tour guides are always very enthusiastic, they do that as students and count on a small pourboire (tip) – in the maybe 12 times we took the tour we had ONE guide who was less than very, very good. The explanations are given in French & English so you have nothing to worry about.
    Given the dismal weather we ‘enjoy’ right now, consider taking a tour in RAIN; it’s special with the raindrops sliding down the glass and seeing the great sights with that ‘soft filter’ – it really is still a treat!

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