Matthieu and I were invited by Travel Republic to glide around the Seine on a dinner cruise via Les Bateaux Parisiens, which embark at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
It was a Tuesday night – one of my craziest days – but it was the best day for the friend who was kind enough to watch our kids. So I had about 15 minutes to get ready, and that was when I discovered that the outfit I had planned on wearing was much dowdier than I realised. So in a blizzard of discarded outfits, I finally emerged with something decent. Except then I discovered that my only pair of stockings, which included feet, had a waist that was too loose.
I solved the problem by pinning them up with a girdle, but that led to a more *ahem* pressing need for a bathroom stop at the inauspicious moment of being stuck in traffic around the Arc de Triomphe. My makeup was a rush-job in the car, and the mascara fell between the seat and the door where I couldn’t reach it. And my swollen winter feet were shoved Minnie Mouse-like into my summery heels, which made me hobble on the cobblestones bordering the Seine. To say we don’t get out much is an understatement.
To say “hobble on the cobble” is fun.
But you’re not here to read about how that silly lady in France lacks dignity, are you? You’re here to read about elegant, romantic dinner cruises on the Seine.
I’ll get to the romance in a minute, but let’s start with some of the practicals. (Any words in blue are a link that you can click on).
TIP ONE: ACCESS The boat is located in the 7th arrondissement, accessible by the Métro line 6, either Bir Hakeim or Trocadéro. You can also get there via the larger train line RER C, and that stop is Champ de Mars.
If you are driving, take the Port de la Bourdonnais. You’ll be able to pull off on the right side and take the ramp down to the parking lot. On a Tuesday we had no problem getting a spot, and there were still spaces when we came out. But to be on the safe side, get there early.
Mini Tip: I noticed that it was not easy to get a taxi afterwards, and I saw three older ladies standing in very high heels, huddled against the brisk wind that comes from being next to a river. So dress warmer than you think you might need, and maybe choose the two-inch heels over the stilettos.
We paid for the parking. You get two hours free, so we only had to pay 10€, which is good for Paris. Then we drove up the ramp, and once on street level, I saw the same people standing on the corner, still searching for a taxi, poor ladies. Our car was full, or I would have taken them.
We checked in at 7:45 PM, and waited in a sheltered room dock-side. There is no bathroom in this room, but you can check your coats in for free.
TIP TWO: BATHROOMS Since bathrooms are always a consideration when you’re traveling in a foreign place, let me reassure you by saying that the bathrooms, once on the ship, are very clean. There are four stalls in the women’s room, and I assume it’s the same for the men. There is someone stationed down there to keep things tidy throughout the cruise, and she was very helpful in instructing me how to turn the water on.
A hint – it’s not through motion sensors or through knobs, but rather you have to touch the circle directly on top of the faucet that doesn’t look like a button.
Mini Tip: Regarding the bathrooms, you should also know that they are located down a spiral staircase and are not accessible to those with limited ability.
When we finally boarded, around 8:15, we were taken directly to our table. Now here’s where I want to make a distinction between the dinner packages available. No matter which package you choose, you will have amazing food and an amazing view. The main distinction you need to know is that Etoile and Elegance services are seated on the inner isle the boat, where you will still have a great view, no matter which way you are seated …
TIP THREE: WINDOW SEATS However, the Premier will get you seated at the window, and Privilège will place you at the head of the boat – the “bow” where you will be facing large, unobstructed bay windows with a pristine view of Paris all around you.
If you are going with friends, the first two services will be just fine. However, if you are about to propose or something, you may way to upgrade, because the tables on the inner island are placed too close together for intimacy, and the lights are too bright for the ultimate romantic experience. You know – if being in Paris and dining on the Seine – are not cutting it for you.
My husband and I, well … our romance burns from within. So we were fine with Etoile. 😉
We were seated next to two fun ladies – Mary, who is a boisterous woman who blogs about (and writes fiction set in) 13th century Sicily. As soon as I hear from her, I’ll include her blog link. The other lady was as quiet as her friend was chatty, but every word she did speak was a gem. (That one’s for you, Andrea).
TIP FOUR: KEEPSAKES You get your menus in either French or English when you check in, and those are for you to keep as souvenirs. There is also a professional photographer that comes around and takes individual, couple and/or group photos of everyone, which are wired down to the mobile photo lab on the ship. When it’s time for dessert, she comes up with a bunch of 8 x 10 glossies for you to peruse and purchase. They are 20€ per photo, but you might get a deal if you buy more than one. (30€ for two).
We’re not big into buying pictures, but we did splurge on the black and white photo of us kissing, with the date and place printed at the bottom. Where else are we going to get a picture of us kissing on the Seine?
Okay let me rephrase that, since I actually do have some of those pictures. Let me say, “When else are we going to get a picture of us kissing on the Seine that’s not a selfie?”
The waiter brings a Kir and some little muffins, and then comes and takes your order. If you don’t drink alcohol, there are soft drinks and juice available.
As the boat starts moving, you cruise past the Invalides
and the Grand Palais
past the Concorde and the Louvre.
There is live music, with a combination of American solos and duets, and other more traditional songs like La Vie en Rose.
As we drifted past the Notre Dame, she sang – appropriately – Ave Maria. We went all the way to the National Library before turning around and cruising back. That way you get a great view of every national monument, no matter which way you’re facing.
The boat does the same trip in reverse, and goes all the way to the smaller Statue of Liberty – the model that served as the prototype for the larger statue in New York.
TIP FIVE: SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS If you have dietary restrictions, the ship can accommodate gluten-free, vegetarian, lactose free, fiber or residue-free? (I don’t know what those last two mean). However, you have to let them know in advance, and you can do this by raising a request with the Travel Republic’s Customer Service under “Manage Your Booking.”
I needed gluten-free and let them know in advance. For that, I was able to choose straight off the menu; they told me which choices were gluten-free.
I had scallops —
Mini Tip: The gluten-free menu does not include special bread to sop up all that delicious sauce.
I suspect that’s because elegant people don’t … sop.
My husband had the beef —
and my main course was sea bass with leeks (it was a seafood night for me).
You order dessert early on with the rest of the meal so they can bring everything on time. The only choice I could eat had ice cream and blueberry meringue, and it was very good.
In fact, everything was absolutely delicious. No second-rate food here!
There’s something so magical about gliding along the Seine, and ducking under one centuries-old stone bridge
On one of these dinner cruises, you have everything you need for a magical evening in Paris – delicious French food, beautiful French sites, elegant surroundings.
The only thing that is not provided is the company.
But that is entirely up to you. 😉
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For your next trip to Paris, you can book your dinner cruise here, and choose the service that you want (the last four boxes are for the 8:30 cruise that I went on). The prices are in British pounds, but if you use a different currency, you can calculate the conversion rates here.
Travel Republic has been established since 2003, and aims to offer the best price in travel; they will refund the difference if you can find a cheaper deal. They boast a huge choice of hotels, flights, and attractions, and their motto is always to put the customer first. Three million people book with Travel Republic each year, and they have additional sites in Ireland, Spain and Italy.