- Champs Elysées
Stops at Port des Champs Elysées, Paris 8th arrondissement. From place Clémenceau, take avenue Winston Churchill towards the Seine. Go down the stairs on the left at Pont Alexandre III.
Since the Greeks, for whom the Elysian Fields (Champs-Elysées) were the resting place of warriors, by way of players of Monopoly in French, Marcel Proust looking out for his Gilberte and politicians aiming at moving into the presidential palace, 'the most beautiful avenue in the world' has always conjured up dreams.
However, the history of this roadway designed for Marie de Médicis in former marshland truly began with Napoléon III. The laying out of the gardens and the building of private mansions enabled the success of the avenue running from the Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. It is now the traditional place for parades and commemorations. Rehabilitated in 1994, it has recovered its prestige even if hamburger bars and cars are a bit too visible.
Stops at Quai du Louvre, Paris 1st arrondissement. Go from the pyramid forming the entry to the Louvre towards the quays and then turn right without crossing Pont du Carrousel. Walk for 100 meters along the quay and go down the steps to the river.
In 1816, a large crowd went to the port at the Louvre to watch the docking of the Elise, the first steamboat. Today, the crowd comes to the museum, the home port for art from all over the world. To expand, the Louvre got rid of the Ministry of Finance civil servants who used a wing of the building until the mid-1980s. Going towards the Opera, the beginning of the Japanese quarter of Paris, side-by-side with the luxury boutiques of Faubourg St-Honoré and the antique shops in the Louvre des Antiquaires. The quarter is also a quiet paradise abandoned to bankers now that the National Library and its readers have moved to a new river bank site. With the Tuileries and the quays, this stop is also the one for the nearest Paris gets to beach establishments.
- Hôtel de Ville
Stops at Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville, Paris 4th arrondissement. In Place de l'Hôtel de Ville take the pedestrian underpass to Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville, walk upstream along the quay for 100 metres. The stop is on the right in the square.
There used not to be a quay here, just the shore that sloped gently from Place de l'Hôtel de Ville to the Seine. The place was called 'Place de Grève' (Shore Square) until the nineteenth century and was for a long time the scene of executions and the place where journeyman were hired by the Seine boatmen. This stop is the one for a likeable and historical part of the Paris.
The Marais, Saint-Paul and Saint-Gervais are surviving areas where old houses look out on to the last cobbled lanes. But that's enough of the past. With the Pompidou Centre (Beaubourg), the Picasso Museum, boutiques, eclectic bars of all persuasions and the lively Jewish quarter, the port at Hôtel de Ville also feels the vibrations of modernism.
- Eiffel Tower
Stops at Port de la Bourdonnais, Paris 7th arrondissement: at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, opposite the Trocadéro, cross the street and walk down the stairs at the right hand corner of Pont de Iéna.
The Eiffel Tower is like the lighthouse of Paris. All the travellers in the world-even those who have never seen it-identify it as the absolute symbol of the city. The steel lady was born in 1889 for a Universal Exposition celebrating the centenary of the French Revolution.
It can be seen in all its majesty from the Palais du Trocadéro, built in 1937 for another Universal Exposition. The Champ de Mars is at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. This former Ecole Militaire drill ground is now where children play and watch Punch and Judy shows and where lovers meet.
- Musée d'Orsay
Stops at Quai de Solférino, 7th arrondissement: leaving Musée d'Orsay, cross the street along the quays and go down the steps to the river bank.
This stop is a railway station, as Orsay was at the end of the railway line before it housed all the nineteenth century European artistic movements. The thousands of visitors who visit the museum each day cause a bit of disturbance in this secretive, discreet quarter. The magnificent mansions built by the nobility in the eighteenth century are now mainly used as ministries and embassies. Although the heavy doors behind which state decisions are taken and that only open for the coming and going of ministerial limousines, Faubourg Saint-Germain is not just the hushed paradise of the political and diplomatic world. A walk reveals the finest buildings in Paris in a quarter that is secretive even for Parisians.
Stops at Quai de Malaquais, 6th arrondissement: take rue Bonaparte from Saint-Germain's Church. When you reach the quay, cross the road and go down the steps to the bank.
First came abbots who founded a community that possessed much money and knowledge. Then the Académie Française and the École des Beaux-Arts (art school) set up here. And finally Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and all their friends who held forth while Boris Vian played and Juliette Gréco sang in the cellars. Those are the intellectual roots of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. But is there anything left?
Even though the galleries and bookshops are holding out, ready-to-wear is elbowing out ready-to-think. But if you forget the flashy window displays and explore the little streets around rue de Buci, where the market is held, or the quays (the oldest being Quai des Grands-Augustins that dates back to 1313), you'll find liveliness and artists who still breathe.
- Notre Dame
Stops at Quai de Montebello, Paris 5th arrondissement: go upstream along the quays for about a hundred metres from the Pont au Double, and take the stairs down to the river.
Rue de la Bûcherie is a reminder that the boat berths where there used to be a port to land firewood for Paris. And even if this lively quarter between the Sorbonne and the Seine is not as hot as it was in 1968, it still attracts students from all over the world, who speak all languages-except Latin, whose use by scholars gave the Latin Quarter its name.
The heart of Paris lies across the bridge, because the city was indeed founded on Ile de la Cité. 'Lutetia', the old name of Paris, is Celtic for 'dwelling in the middle of the waters'. The island was the kings' residence under the fourteenth century. They built two Gothic masterpieces (Notre-Dame and the Sainte-Chapelle), their palace (now the law courts), a hospital (Hôtel-Dieu) and a barracks that has become the Prefecture de Police.
- Jardin des Plantes
Stops at Quai Saint-Bernard, Paris 5th arrondissement. Take rue des Fossés-Saint-Bernard towards the Seine, cross Quai Saint-Bernard in front of the Institut du Monde Arabe and go down to the river by the ramp or the stairs. Then walk upstream through the open-air sculpture garden. The Batobus puts in between Pont Sully and Pont d'Austerlitz.
This stop used to be a beach where rich and poor came to wash, stark naked. Pressure from offended neighbors led to the opening of the first baths in 1680 and bathing in the river was forbidden. The quay became a trade port in the eighteenth century and warehouses with magnificent vaulted cellars were built. The wine warehouse competed with the one at Bercy. Business dwindled when the railways took the lead from river transport and the building was demolished in the early 1960s to make room for the Science Faculty (Jussieu). Much earlier Louis XIII's herbalists made the area a garden for their studies and the Natural History Museum began to take shape. A mosque was built at the beginning of the twentieth century and the amazing Institut du Monde Arabe at the end.
until 05 April and from 03 September - 31 December: 25 minute intervals from 10:00 to 19:00
06 April until 09 September: 20 minute intervals from 10:00 to 21:30
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- Hop on-hop off Batobus ticket valid for duration chosen.
- Meals and drinks
- Personal expenses
- Tips and gratuities
- Optional activity costs
- It is necessary to print the confirmation voucher for this tour. The local staff will not accept vouchers shown from a mobile device.
- Children under 3 years old are free of charge.
- Multiday passes are valid for consecutive days.