A Parisian celebration on board a Bateau Mouche

A Parisian celebration on board a Bateau Mouche

If you haven’t seen the Seine, you don’t know Paris. Like London, the French capital is one of those cities whose pulse reverberates along its river. The Seine’s banks are peppered with iconic Parisian monuments, like the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum. If your visit to Paris is brief, you can catch a glimpse of all these major sites on a Bateau Mouche boat. Or, on a longer trip, the boat trip’s a good way to get the lay of the land before you explore in more detail.

Bateau Mouche

picture credit: Pixabay

We tried out the Bateaux Mouches this summer, when D’s uncle invited us onto one for his 70th birthday. It was a short, joyous occasion. We took the Eurostar from London to Paris – such a short and painless journey that it’s even possible to do it as a day trip. D’s parents had hired the best Parisian accommodation: a 10-berth houseboat they found on Airbnb. The boat was within striding distance of the Eiffel Tower. We sat on deck on both the balmy evenings of our stay, while the Tower treated us to a twinkly light show every hour, its lights blinking on and off like a metallic Christmas tree.

Eiffel Tower

The Bateau Mouche ride

The Bateaux Mouches all depart from the same place: close to the Pont de l’Alma on the Port de la Conférence. Depending on whether you’re on a sightseeing tour, a lunchtime cruise or evening dinner ride, the cruise time varies between an hour and ten minutes, and two hours and fifteen minutes. During the day, the Bateaux Mouches are full of casually dressed tourists, with a smart-casual code at lunchtime. You need to dress up for dinner, though. And who would object, to sail down one of the most romance-laden rivers in the world?

(Incidentally, you can order an on-board Bateau Mouche marriage proposal, ‘Get a Yes in Paris’, for the bargain price of €325. I wonder if they give you a discount if the answer is no?)

Bateau Mouche

Bateaux Mouches can also be hired for parties and private functions. There was no shortage of formal attire at D’s uncle’s bash, as you can see from the picture of us above. Kilts ahoy! Aftera  bracing walk along the riverbank (thank heavens for comfortable M&S heels), we arrived in time to board our Bateau, to the soft tinkles of a piano, and the popping of Champagne corks.

The low-slung, beetle-like boat sailed up the river, down, and then back up again. We ate a three-course meal of pea and watercress soup, tender lamb (chicken for the children), and a pistachio dessert. Plenty of green food, to match the newly cleaned-up Seine. Although the river itself still isn’t safe for bathing, a push is on to make it clean enough for swimming in time for the 2024 Olympics. This summer saw Parisians swimming in the nearby La Villette canal for the first time in decades.

Bateau Mouche

Eating cake while passing the Conciergerie


While we ate, our waiter discreetly pointed out landmarks. Marie Antoinette’s prison, the Conciergerie, appeared just as we were eating dessert. Not to be outdone in splendour, the Musée d’Orsay glided past in the background, when the party piano recital began. We sat on the Bateau’s shiny red seats and watched D’s uncle’s friends dance Flamenco. Then there was time to wander. We took our drinks up on deck, to toast the replica Statue of Liberty in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.


Pros and cons of the trip

This was a blissfully simple trip, and I’d recommend the Bateaux Mouches to anyone wanting to sample the essence of Paris. For us living in London, the ease of Eurostar travel made it feel as straightforward as a jaunt to Leeds.

My one regret about this trip was the timing. It came at the end of the school term, but we had prior commitments back home a few days after the party. This meant we had to head straight back afterwards. Had the party happened a week or two later, we’d have hired a car in Paris using a reputed car rental comparison site like Easyterra, and driven south. Paris is so well-connected to other parts of the country, that a repeat of last year’s road trip would have been appealing.

But you can’t do everything in one summer. This time, we headed north instead, to the opposite extreme: Galloway Forest, where there are so few lights that it’s the best place in Scotland to see the stars.

But Paris: we’ll be back.

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This is a collaborative post. All views are my own.













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  1. September 6, 2017 / 10:30 pm

    What a great way to celebrate a birthday! Hmmm… maybe my 40th?

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:49 pm

      You should do it, Ting!

  2. September 7, 2017 / 9:57 am

    Super fun! J’adore Paris – so any opportunity to celebrate there sounds parfait to moi! What a fun and easy way to see all the sites when in the City of Lights. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:50 pm

      It’s a great way to pack in all those amazing sights.

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:50 pm

      It was indeed!

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:50 pm

      We’d definitely recommend it.

  3. September 7, 2017 / 10:18 pm

    In love with Paris and this year in June I finally took the kiddies. And guess what, we were guests of Bateaux Mouches – loved it! 😉 Thanks for sharing! #FarawayFiles

  4. September 8, 2017 / 5:24 am

    That is the way to go on a birthday! To me, the simplicity of these river journeys is enough to satisfy my curiosity. I tend to learn a lot about city and see areas that are not easy to see on foot. Of course you will be back! I think I want to go back to every city I visit. #FarawayFiles

    • September 8, 2017 / 10:28 am

      I know. There are just so many incredible places to visit! Paris is an easy one for us though, so we’ll definitely be hopping on the Eurostar again soon.

    • September 11, 2017 / 2:51 pm

      It was indeed.

  5. September 8, 2017 / 4:53 pm

    What a fabulous way to party, Nell! I love how easy it is to get to Paris – I must make it a resolution to visit more often. I think a boat trip down the Seine is a great way of seeing a lot of the iconic Parisian sights and learning a bit of history at the same time. Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

    • September 11, 2017 / 9:06 pm

      It was a great shortcut to the city, without compromising on the quality of the experience.

  6. What a wonderful idea for a birthday party! My dad celebrated his 70th on a steam train in Haute-Loire this summer. I once did a lunchtime cruise on a bateau mouche with my then boyfriend (now husband) and his parents. It was wonderful.
    How great to read that the Seine is being cleaned up to make it safe for swimming.

    • September 11, 2017 / 9:06 pm

      A steam train trip down the Loire sounds amazing too. One to add to my bucket list!

  7. September 8, 2017 / 6:16 pm

    What a lovely celebration and in such a beautiful setting! Ah Paris…. #farawayfiles

    • September 11, 2017 / 9:07 pm

      I know. Such a romantic place!

  8. September 11, 2017 / 12:12 pm

    Paris and London – my two fav cities (sorry Copenhagen and New York) both based around the waterfront. Glad to hear about the clean up of the Seine,. thought the Thames was looking a little murky this weekend. Glad the weather worked for, had my honeymoon in Paris in June. I was freezing!

    • September 12, 2017 / 11:12 am

      They still have a way to go with the Seine, but apparently it’s tons better than it used to be….

  9. September 14, 2017 / 2:03 pm

    My parents are going to Paris soon (maybe next year) FOR THEIR HONEYMOON! They never married, but now they are getting married after 40 years together (long story). They don’t have a lot of money, but some of our ancestors are French and my dad wanted to see France. Do you have any recommendations of a cheaper neighborhood to stay in? They’d even be willing to stay in a suburb and take the train in.

    I think they’ll really just want to do a tour of Paris, and then spend the rest of the time sightseeing a bit more. I’ll be looking at everyone’s Paris posts for recommendations of the best sights to see and what to do in Paris on a budget. If you haven’t already written that post, it would be a good one!

    • September 14, 2017 / 7:06 pm

      That’s a good idea. I don’t know a great deal about staying in the suburbs, but I’ll bet airbnb have some reasonable offers. Our boat was a relatively inexpensive place for the ten of us, even though it was central. I hope your parents have the best of honeymoons – they’re picking a great place for it.

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