I recently took a different view of Paris during a beautiful summer day. It was from the deck of a tourist bateau that was to take a prowl around the river seine. I found myself looking up at everything rather than directly at them. The craft that I decided to travel on was operated by a very fine company called Batobus. Business was truly up and running for them during those salad days while I was there.
The route that the boat took was continuous and enclosed. It operated between the French Statue of Liberty way out to the west to as far as the Jardin des Plants in the east. There were nine stopping off points at landing stages during a complete rotation. Passengers could join the vessel at any of these locations. They would join the boat and could stay on board as long as they liked.
The French Statue of Liberty is a smaller version of the original that stands in New York harbour in the United States. This was a gift to the American people from the French people. It is a national symbol of shared freedom for all.
I joined the Batobus at a landing stage close to the Eiffel Tower. Off we went with pretty much a full deck of passengers. We ‘steamed’ along the Seine at a gentle pace on the south side of the river towards the Musee D’Orsay. It was a beautiful clear day and I was able to admire all that I could see. The trip took in the view of Saint German Des Pres and onwards towards the Ille de la Cite with Notre Dame Cathedral. Beyond, we came to the Jardin des Plants and then crossed over to the other bank.
The cruise continued past the Hotel de Ville towards the Royal Palaces and the enigmatic Pie pyramids located right at the eastern edge of the arrow straight Triumphal Route. Progress continued past the Place de la Concorde and the Grand Palais. Advancement westwards along the northern bank continued to provide views of Trocadero and onwards towards to the Statue of Liberty again. The boat then crossed once more to the southern side of the Seine to complete a further rotation. Passengers were able to continue as long as they liked. They were able to just relax and take in the life and romance of the City of Paris. We were all able to get on or off at any of the landing points that suited our plan for the day and our aspirations.
Batobus is an experienced river trip company. The boats are flat bottomed, safe and capacious. They are shielded from the elements by wide open panels of clear Perspex that provide an excellent, undistorted view of the world outside. The vessel’s crew were uniformed and professional. They treated us all with complete patience and politeness in a welcoming manner. Each rotation would last for about two hours but staff cautioned that toilets were not available on board the craft. The crew were plainly very keen to present the cruise in a grand style. The boats were heated in the winter months and bicycle storage was available on board. The rear deck of the bateau was wide open to view the features of the City from the open air.
The complement of passengers on my trip was, of course, very cosmopolitan. People formed temporary friendships and all shared their space with each other very well. All were taking photographs of what they saw. You could even stand just behind the captain as he directed the craft to capture his view from the front.
The cruise for me was a glimmer of Paris life itself as well as a tour of the City highlights. There were many groups of people along the river banks relaxing in their deck chairs. They were just drinking wine, eating ice cream and taking in the sunshine. Paris City life was going on around me as I traversed the route. Parts of the Seine embankments had been converted into artificial sandy beaches for all to savour the summer atmosphere. Paris City life was well up to speed as I took in the view. The trip presented an impression of an evolving Paris on almost an hourly basis that would not normally be obvious from the terra firma above.
The commercial side of City life was also very apparent from the river. The seine is a major commercial thoroughfare for France. We shared the river with many other less attractive vessels plying their trade. It felt good to be a part of it all somehow. The seine connected France to the rest of the world.
I paid 17 Euros for my passage and I thought it wonderful value. Passes for one or two days are also available to provide complete freedom of travel with Batobus just as it suited each individual. The River Seine is a fun way to get around the City.
I got off at the Jardin des Plants. That was close to my hotel and suited me perfectly. I had enjoyed my cruise along with an Australian family on board. They were ‘doing’ Europe and we all valued so much our temporary companionship.