Paris

Review: Paris La Seine River Tour and Dinner Cruise

The Gourmet Flyer posing with a river cruise boat and Notre Dame Cathedral in the background.

Updated May 20, 2024, with the most up-to-date spring/summer 2024 lunch and dinner cruise menus.

Your trip to Paris is certainly incomplete without a tour along the River Seine. Not only will you be able to see the majestic architectures and iconic monuments of the city from a perspective that you cannot observe on land, but you’ll also get a good orientation of the major points of interest in the city. This will help you tremendously in understanding the landscape of the city. After the tour, you will be able to pinpoint many major landmarks’ positions relative to the river and be able to plan your itinerary more efficiently.

This review is also a guide to help you explore the City of Lights on the water and highlight the several options that you might consider. From the most economical water-taxi to the most magical and romantic dinner cruise and everything in between, this guide will help you find what is best for you.

Table of Contents

Seine River Sightseeing

Seine River Hop-On Hop-Off Boat

Lunch on the River

Dinner on the River

Seine River Sightseeing

View of the Eiffel Tower from a cruise boat on the River Seine.

The Bateaux Parisiens tour was the first river excursion that I took on my first trip to Paris. In fact, this is probably one of the most popular choices for first-time visitors, especially if you don’t have a lot of time. The two options for departure port are near the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame so it is easy to fit this tour into your itinerary.

In about an hour’s time, you’ll pass through many major attractions like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Musee D’Orsay, etc. You will also gain an invaluable orientation of the major points of interest and their positions relative to the river. This is why I always recommend visitors who are staying for a few days to a week or longer to take the river tour on the first or second day of their stay.

While a tour during the day will give you a clear picture of the landscapes of Paris, a sailing from sunset into the night will give you the most enchanting view of the City of Lights.

Seine River Hop-On Hop-Off Boat

The hop-on hop-off boat full of passengers.

After I’ve become a more seasoned traveler and gotten to know Paris better, I now prefer the hop-on hop-off boats over the sightseeing tour mentioned above. These boats are like a large water taxi, and you can hop on or off at any of its 8 stops. If you decide to not leave the boat, the entire round trip is about two hours long.

This is also more budget friendly and is sometimes known as the “poor man’s river excursion”. You get a tour of the river while visiting many of the city’s major attractions at the same time. And more importantly, it is a mode of transportation, bypassing the city’s notorious traffic and its crowded and confusing subway systems. The 8 stops are:

  • Jardin des Plantes (Museum of Natural History, The Pantheon)
  • Hotel de Ville (Hip and trendy district)
  • Musée du Louvre
  • Concord (Grand Palais, Avenue des Champs Elysées, Jardin de Tuileries)
  • Tour Eiffel
  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Saint Germain des Prés (Latin Quarter)
  • Notre Dame

Lunch on the River

Paris has all the activities along the river that you can dream of. If you can think of a name, there’s probably a tour associated with it – whether it’s lunch, buffet, champagne, happy hour, afternoon tea, sunset, sunrise, … you name it.

A printed menu showing selections for appetizer, main course, and dessert.

Personally, I think the lunch cruise operated by Bateaux Parisiens the best value, starting from €69 for a two-hour journey complete with beverages and French cuisines. The picture above shows their current menu for the 2023 spring and summer season.

Updated December 1, 2023, with the winter 2023/2024 lunch menu posted below:

A lunch menu with white printing on black background shows the options for starter, main course, cheeses, and dessert.

Updated May 20, 2024, for the spring/summer 2024 season.

A lunch cruise menu in black background with white printing lists the options for appetizer, main course, and dessert.

However, if you are ready to splurge a little for the most magical experience, you cannot beat an intimate table for two while sailing along one of the most romantic rivers on the planet.

Dinner on the River

Bateaux Parisiens Dinner Cruise

A grilled fish served on a plate with sauteed vegetables sits atop a table with white tablecloth.

There are two major players in Paris offering fine dining in a love boat sailing along the river. Bateaux Parisiens operates the more glamourous and also the largest boat in the business with an all-glass top and huge glass panels throughout. The décor of the interior is contemporary, with a touch of elegance and sophistication. The early evening journey departs at 6:15pm and is one hour and 15 minutes long. Join the big party that departs at 8:30pm for two and a half hours of fine dining and live entertainment. The atmosphere is chill and vibrant, although it could be a bit too loud for some.

The interior of the boat with dining tables set up along the large window with night scene of Paris in the backdrop.

The boat is huge and is divided into sections. The middle sections are the most economically priced and are perfect for those who are budget conscious. For the most intimate and romantic experience, reserve a window table for two at a premium price. The most expensive tables are the ones at the front of the boat offering the most panoramic view.

A printed menu showing the options for appetizers, main course, and dessert.

Depending on the options that you choose, a 3-course meal is typically served with choices for appetizers, main course, and dessert. Champagne and wines are included in some packages. The above picture shows one of the menus for the spring and summer season of 2023.

Updated December 1, 2023, with the Winter 2023/2024 dinner menu posted below:

A black and white dinner menu displaying options for appetizer, main course, cheese, and dessert.

Updated May 20, 2024, for the spring/summer 2024 season.

A menu with a white background and dark gray letterings lists the dinner choices for starter, entree, dessert, and wines.
18:15 Departure
A menu with a white background and dark gray letterings lists the options for starter, entree, and dessert as well as the wine packages that are available.
20:30 Departure

La Marina de Paris Dinner Cruise

Another option is the La Marina dinner cruise. The pier for La Marina is just steps away from the Musée d’Orsay so visiting the museum just prior to the sailing will make for a perfect itinerary.

The La Marina journey was on a smaller boat with a more intimate atmosphere, which my wife liked. The décor was not overly glamourous but had a taste of casual elegance which we preferred. The large glass windows all around including the ceiling provided a panoramic view.

Both the food and their presentations were outstanding. Each dish was almost like a piece of art. The first course came with four outstanding appetizers: Scallop in fresh tomatoes, butterfly shrimp, chou pastry with goat cheese, and duck foie gras.

For the main dish, my wife had a grilled fish and I opted to have the chicken leg confit. Both dishes were delicious. I really liked my chicken as the meat was tender, juicy, and flavorful. My wife gave me a bite of her fish and I liked its texture and its taste. Both plates were served with fresh vegetables and a side of buttery and creamy mashed sweet potatoes.

Just when I was telling my wife that nothing was going to top the presentation of the appetizers, our server brought us a stunning dessert plate. This masterpiece of culinary arts consisted of strawberry tartare, lemon shortbread, chocolate mousse, and light toffee cream.

A printed menu showing selections for starters, main dish, and dessert.

La Marina rotates their menus often and the most recent sample menu for the 2023 spring and summer season is posted above.

Updated December 1, 2023, with the winter 2023/2024 dinner menu posted below:

A menu with black printing on a white background shows the lunch options for starters, main course, and dessert. A cheese plate is available for an additional 8 Euros.

Updated May 20, 2024, for the spring/summer 2024 season.

A menu in white background with blue captions and black letterings describe the dinner choices of the night.

It was an outstanding excursion that we enjoyed immensely. The entire wait staff was friendly, energetic, and enthusiastic. Restrooms were clean and well maintained. We also liked the two-hour length which gave us enough time to enjoy a leisurely meal and to soak in the enchanting scenery under the stars and the dim moonlight.

For the spring and summer season of 2024, La Marina operates two romantic dinner sailings — the 6:45pm departure is one hour and 15 minutes long and the two-hour journey similar to the one we took departs at 9:15pm.