7 Best Tips Before Taking a Cruise on the Seine River in Paris
Taking a boat cruise along the Seine River is one of the most popular activities for visitors to Paris. Gliding smoothly past Parisian landmarks while sipping wine and listening to commentary is a quintessential Parisian experience. Here are 7 tips to help you make the most of your Seine river cruise in the City of Light:
- Choose the right type of cruise
The first decision to make when planning your Seine River cruise in Paris is choosing the right type of experience for what you want to see and do. There are several options to consider. Daytime sightseeing cruises are best for soaking in views of top landmarks along the river.
Most run 1-2 hours and provide audio commentary on sites like Notre Dame Cathedral, Musee d’Orsay, Louvre Museum, and Pont Alexandre III bridge. The uncovered boat deck allows for great photo ops and the closed-in seating area is available if you need shelter from sun or rain.
For a more romantic experience, book an evening dinner cruise. These 2-3 hour tours feature high-end multi-course meals with French cuisine and wines. As the boat glides by Paris monuments now illuminated at night, you’ll dine al fresco on the deck or inside the glass-enclosed lounge with live piano music setting the mood.
Evening sightseeing cruises without meals are another option for nighttime river views and photo backdrops. Or opt for the fun dance party cruises geared more for groups. They have DJs and open bars on board. Carefully comparing these cruise types and experiences will allow you to choose the one that best fits your Paris trip itinerary and interests – whether that leans more towards sightseeing, romance, or lively entertainment!
- Dress appropriately
When preparing for your Parisian boat cruise along the River Seine, putting some thought into your attire can ensure you stay comfortable on board. Even on hot sunny days in the summer, wide open river decks can have breezy winds that make temperatures feel cooler, especially when the boat picks up speed. Since there is very little shelter from the elements on outer decks, wearing layers is wise. Bring a light sweater, cardigan, or windbreaker jacket on board that can be easily slipped on or off. Scarves also come in handy.
For shoes, skip sandals or heels which can be tricky navigating boat stairs. Opt instead for comfortable walking shoes with traction that can withstand water spray from the river.
If booking an evening dinner cruise, check the dress code which tends to be more elegant and formal. Cocktail dresses or pantsuits for women and sports jackets and collared shirts for men are often required in enclosed dining areas. Ties can be requested too for men.
For both day and night cruises, speaking of ties, you’ll want to tie back longer hair to prevent it from blowing into your face from the winds. The temperature fluctuations plus potential precipitation on Seine cruises merits dressing in adaptable layers, non-slip footwear, and having hair secured back. This allows you to freely stroll outer decks to admire Paris cityscape views without distractions.
- Checking the Weather Forecast
When preparing for your memorable Seine River cruise in Paris, one important tip is to carefully check the weather forecast and plan your attire and items to bring accordingly. With the cruise featuring open upper decks for sightseeing along with enclosed lower cabins, you’ll want to dress for both warm and potentially rainy conditions.
In the case of sunny summer days, having sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats readily available is wise to protect from extended exposure to the sun’s rays reflected off the river. Heat and strong UV rays can quickly cause discomfort or sunburn without cautionary preparation. Pack water bottles too to stay hydrated under the hot sun while admiring Parisian landmarks from the boat.
If rain showers are forecasted on the day of your cruise, bring compact umbrellas or rain ponchos to stay dry on the outer decks, allowing you to still appreciate the Seine’s scenery. If heavy rainfall or thunderstorms are expected, having back-up indoor seating is a plus though viewing opportunities become more limited if stuck inside. Check if cancellations or rescheduling is possible if weather truly deteriorates.
With Paris’ unpredictable weather, checking forecasts daily leading up to your cruise and packing accordingly ensures you’re ready for anything. Whether basking under blue skies or temporarily taking cover from cloud bursts, you’ll be geared up to enjoy La Seine regardless!
- Enhancing Your View with Binoculars
An excellent way to maximize your cruising experience along the Seine River is by bringing binoculars on board to enhance viewing of iconic Parisian landmarks seen from afar on the water. As the boat glides smoothly past famous sights like Notre Dame Cathedral, Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, often these structures appear smaller and detail is harder to discern from such a distance. Packing a reliable pair of binoculars can help remedy this.
Having the ability to zoom in tight on architectural elements of historic buildings from your unique vantage point on the river offers you a chance to admire intricate embellishments not easily seen by the naked eye from a cruise ship. Spotting the gargoyles and chimeras perched high on Notre Dame, the intricate latticework of the Eiffel Tower, or the carved sculptural glory of Arc de Triomphe becomes far more feasible with binoculars handy.
You may catch pleasant surprises not readily noticed previously like stonework statuary, gold gilding, ornate brackets, or stained glass artistry. Sweeping landscapes also become clearer to breathe in. With binoculars in tow, your entire Seine River cruise perspective shifts closer toward the alluring City of Light on full display before you.
- Arriving Early to the Cruise
An important tip for fully enjoying your upcoming Seine River cruise experience is to make sure to arrive at the boat’s docking area early before the scheduled departure time. Many of the piers and boarding zones for Paris sightseeing cruises are situated away from high-traffic streets and prominent landmarks. This means the specific locations could be tucked away on smaller side streets that may require extra time to find for first-time visitors.
Give yourself at least 15-30 minutes to safely locate your riverboat’s loading zone on side streets along the Seine where city noise dims to a hush compared to bustling tourism centers. Having a map screenshot, address handy or even using GPS to pinpoint the precise pier location is wise rather than relying on signage amid Paris’ labyrinth of picturesque side streets.
Keep in mind that boarding often starts 30 minutes prior to departure time so arriving early guarantees you’re settled in when the cruise leaves sharp on schedule. You avoid missing the boat quite literally!
Onboard early, you can then relax into your river view seat while enjoying welcome drinks without rushed panic. You also have a chance to chat with cruise staff, photograph scenery at leisure, and anticipate iconic attractions ahead. Punctual early arrival means you disembark later with no regrets, just rich Paris memories!
- Getting the Best Seats on the Seine Cruise
One key tip to make the most of your memorable Paris river cruise is to strategically snag the best seats on board the boat for optimal viewing and photographs. With open upper decks as well as enclosed lower cabins, choosing a seat with ideal proximity to landmarks gliding by requires some planning.
The front and back parts of outer decks tend to offer the least obstructed views as the boat changes direction during its winding route. If stunning photographs are a priority, arrive early to claim seats at either end closest to railings framing postcard scenes drifting into frame.
Side perches here also keep the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral centered behind you for selfies with pals. For groups, grab full benches facing the water. If you have crowd claustrophobia, opt for inside cabin seats next to large windows still offering riverside vantages without clusters of tourists blocking sightlines or photo ops.
Booking the earliest daily cruise time often means fewer passengers onboard allowing couples or families to select premium viewing seats without battle. If weather conditions worsen, having indoor seats pre-reserved guarantees you still see Paris shine through the glass while staying dry. With premier seating secured, your unique Seine cruise perspective lets iconic bridges, quaint cafes and Parisian life unfold before your eyes.
- Having Cash for Onboard Purchases
While enjoying sublime views of Paris drift by aboard your Seine River cruise, you’ll want cash on hand to fully indulge in the onboard offerings for purchase that amplify the experience. Although most standard sightseeing cruises and evening dinner cruises include basic drinks and meals in the package price, extra refreshments, tasty treats and souvenir keepsakes are often available for cash-only transactions directly from staff.
Many boats have small kiosks or carts selling logo branded items like t-shirts, ballcaps, postcards and keychains evoking French charm to bring home. Having Euro cash on you allows grabbing little souvenirs on a whim without hassle.
For drinks beyond the house wine/beer provided, enjoy espresso coffees, champagne cocktails or fruit smoothies from the below-deck bar by paying cash directly. They may offer sweet and savory crepes dusted in sugar for snacks too if you get hungry mid-river. While credit cards are accepted for initial cruise bookings online, onboard purchases are facilitated simply through cash only.
So before embarking your Seine cruise, be sure to hit the ATM withdrawal button to get plenty Euro banknotes. Then you can freely indulge spontaneous Paris memento purchases or drinks to toast the views drifting by without scramble. Cash ensures you collect everything worth savoring!