Take a Seine River Cruise to See Paris From the Water

seine river cruise

If you’re planning a visit to Paris, a seine river cruise is an excellent way to see the city from the water. Read on to learn more about this popular tour.

Several companies offer sightseeing and dinner cruises on the Seine. Prices vary, but most include a ticket and narration (in English and French). The best time to take a tour is during the summer from June to August.

Views of Parisian Monuments

Whether you take a 1-hour panoramic cruise or a longer river tour with commentary you can appreciate iconic Parisian monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre. If you choose to book a combo tour with a major attraction like the Arc de Triomphe or Orsay Museum you can save time by boarding your cruise directly after your visit and bypassing the queues.

A river cruise is an enjoyable activity all year round. If you book a night time cruise with dinner you can witness illuminated monuments and bridges at their most beautiful. The Eiffel Tower is particularly impressive at night when its thousands of lights outline the giant metal structure topped with a huge beacon.

The Paris de Vedettes company offers a similar one-hour sightseeing cruise with their “Bateaux Mouches” boats but they use smaller boats that are less crowded than the larger Batobus boats. This gives you an excellent view of the historic heart of Paris from a different angle and is especially good during the summer.

Orientation of Major Points of Interest

Seeing iconic Paris landmarks from the river is a great way to gain a new perspective on these much-loved sights and discover the city’s layout. Many sightseeing cruises have onboard narrators who provide interesting facts about the monuments you see from your boat.

Several different companies operate the boat tours but they all follow roughly the same route. Most offer English-speaking guided tours and some have audio commentary available in 14 languages. During this hour-long tour you’ll glide past Assemblee Nationale, Les Invalides, Notre Dame and Musee D’Orsay among other monuments.

The Seine offers a gentle contrast to the craggy, rugged coastline of Normandy where you’ll find peaceful abbeys and grand castles. See what inspired a master artist during a Tauck Exclusive early access visit to Monet’s Gardens at Giverny and gain a fresh insight into Impressionism before returning to Paris on the final leg of your journey.

Suitable for All Ages

There are cruises suitable for all ages, from toddlers to grandparents. Most sightseeing cruises offer an audio guide that is available in several languages, including English, French, Spanish, and Chinese. In addition, many river cruises are family-friendly and offer special kids’ menus.

Some river cruise companies also offer specialty night tours that take advantage of Paris’ famous illuminations. While these are not as common, they can be a very romantic experience and give you a different perspective on the city.

A few companies offer combo tours that include a Seine cruise with other attractions such as a visit to the Eiffel Tower or a show at Moulin Rouge. These can be group or private experiences and usually involve round trip transportation in a chauffeur-driven vehicle. This can be a great option for families with multiple children and seniors who might have trouble walking long distances. Most of the time, these combo experiences are a lot more affordable than buying each tour separately.


The Seine river cruise is a convenient way to soak in most of the city sights without tiring yourself out too much. Most of the sightseeing tours are very popular and seats that look out from vantage points for the top sites fill up fast so turning up early is recommended.

There are also lunch and dinner cruises for those looking for a more luxurious experience. The companies that run these cruises often provide live narration but it can be hard to hear on busy days. Some companies offer audio commentary that you can download and listen to on your own smartphone or tablet (this can be better than the actual narration depending on the quality of your audio device).

Some companies sell packages that include a Seine river cruise, Eiffel Tower visit or Moulin Rouge show. This can be great for families and those who want to save time on booking separate experiences.