of the best sightseeing bargains in Paris just happens
to be one of the best floating photography platforms
as well. And in these times when your vacation dollar
isn’t going as far as it used to the Seine
River boat tours can keep your budget comfortably
trips in the heart of the French capital offer postcard
quality views of the city’s most memorable
monuments for your most memorable moments, and all
at a surprisingly reasonable price.
roughly seven to ten dollars, depending upon the
daily exchange rate, this petite voyage
allows you to save yourself long hikes between the
major landmarks, especially when you consider that
it’s approximately two miles just from the
Notre Dame Cathedral to the Eiffel Tower.
Add in your
camera, coat, maps, tour book, assorted souvenirs
and the wrong shoes and the hike soon becomes a
long haul. Vacations don’t have to be work,
so save yourself from the marathon walks and inevitable
are a handful of tour boat companies that offer
these cruises, the Bateaux Mouche, based at the
Pont Alma Bridge, is the largest with indoor or
outdoor open seating offering ‘reasonable’
comfort. ‘Reasonable’ here means rows
of plastic, fold-down seats but with plenty of open
rail space to get you within clicking distance and
unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre
and d’Orsay museums, the Notre Dame Cathedral,
and the Statue of Liberty.
Well, a Statue
of Liberty anyway because it was France who gave
the United States the ‘other’ statue
that rests in New York harbor a 21-ton copy donated
by Americans citizens in 1899 to celebrate the French
Revolution marks the eastern turnaround point of
the river tour.
and particularly the Parisians are proud of their
monuments, not to mention the historical bridges
that you’ll cruise under beginning with the
Pont Alma, which was built to commemorate the Franco-British
victory in the Crimera in 1854.
there’s the more ornate Pont Alexander III
bridge built in 1900 for the World Exhibition to
honor Russia’s Czar Nicholas II’s father
with its grand columns, laurel-wreath scrollwork,
and gilded and wrought iron street lamps, and hand-scrawled
magic marker graffiti that read: ‘Keep
Paris Beautiful. Tourists go home. Merci. Adieu.’
probably not the official stance of the city’s
Board of Tourism but it does counter the notion
that the French are always rude. The scrawler did
at least offer a thank you.
of irony is the Pont Neuf, which means ‘the
new bridge.’ The Pont Neuf dates from the
16th century and it is the city’s
oldest bridge linking the right and left banks with
the Ile de la Cite- the island in the city. The
Ile de la Cite is the true center of the capital
and the sight of the ancient Parisii and Roman settlements
that date back over 2,000 years.
of history and information you get from the recorded
program guide that offers a brief history of the
city and sights in a number of different languages
and keeps you from wondering what you’re looking
at and photographing. Another advantage of the leisurely
boat rides is that the riverboat views often hides
the long lines of visitors, army of street vendors,
and tour buses that surround the popular Left or
Right Bank attractions.
leave every thirty minutes and during the evening
hours when they turn on their running lights the
‘City of Light’ has even more luster
and yet one more photo opportunity!
Keep in mind
if you book the hour-long boat cruise from your
hotel you may find yourself paying a ‘service
fee.’ This can range anywhere from three to
four times the cost of the boat tour as one group
of Chinese tourists soon discovered after paying
close to $30 for a three-block bus ride from their
hotel that was visible from the dock and within
a ten minute or so walk.
always pay for what we don’t know,”
said one of the frustrated Chinese tourists.
I said, commiserating. Tour books only go so far.
The rest you get from experience.
within walking distance from your hotel then put
on a comfortable pair of walking shoes and take
a leisurely stroll to the boat tour. What’s
reasonable? That depends upon you and your walking
limits but you’ll not only save money, you’ll
also be able to take in some of the ambiance of
the quays and river and your own scenic shots, which
is enough to make you smile.
Now say frommage!
P.J. Jorgenson is a freelance writer and a frequent
visitor to Europe.