I knew that I wanted to cap off my day at the Eiffel Tower with a cruise down the Seine so that I could see a bunch of the city’s landmarks at night, but I didn’t really care to go through the fuss of choosing from all the different companies offering boat tours. Since Vedettes de Paris was the closest option, I bought a regular ticket for €14 (~$15.28 USD) and took the 9 PM trip. The cruise lasted about one hour and offered commentary in French, Spanish, and English. It was also really cold at night on the top deck, but I feel like it’s a better place to actually see everything than sitting inside.
The commentary started out by telling us that Paris has 32 bridges and that we would be able to see 28 of them on this trip. As we passed through some of the bridges, we learned a little about their significance. For instance, Pont Neuf, which translates as “new bridge”, is actually the oldest bridge in Paris. Pont Alexandre III is highly-decorated with a Beaux-Arts style and is unique in that it has one large arch as opposed the the several smaller arches seen in most of Paris’ other bridges. Pont de l’Alma has a statue of a Zouave, an infantry soldier in the French army, which is used to measure the water level on the Seine, based on how much of his body is covered at a given time. Pont de l’Alma is also close to the tunnel where Princess Diana died. The Flame of Liberty, a replica of the Statue of Liberty’s flame that is located at the northern end of the bridge, has become an unofficial memorial for the princess.
Other non-bridge related things that I learned on this trip include…
- There are 20 different fish species in the Seine today, as opposed to the 4 or 5 that were there fifty years ago
- The Palais de Tokyo, a modern and contemporary art museum, was originally a pavilion for the 1937 World’s Fair
- The American Church of Paris was the first American church built outside of the United States
- The Obelisk of Luxor at the Place de la Concorde marks the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées
- Paris’ point zero, the point from which all distances from Paris are measured, is located in front of Notre Dame (I can’t believe I didn’t notice this when I was there)
- The Latin Quarter is named for the Latin language, not for Latin-American people or culture, which I can’t believe I actually assumed at first
Of course, the cruise passed by several of the places that I’ve been to already, but it was cool to catch a glimpse of them at night.
Next time I’m in Paris, I think I’ll just spend a whole day walking along the Seine since there are a lot of little details that I’d like to examine a little closer and most of the major sights sit right by the river anyway. The boat dropped us back by the Eiffel Tower and I headed back to my hostel so I could wrap myself in a warm blanket and get some sleep.