November 20, 2011

The Batobus Beckons

These softly-lit autumn days, with their unexpected touch of warmth, are treasures. They inspire us to linger in cafés, crunch through dried leaves, or embrace the role of flaneur as the clock ticks toward winter.

Although we often get around Paris on the grève-prone RER, the subterranean web of metros, or the friendly buses (with stops so close to each other that you can see the next stop in the distance), we sometimes forget the scenic Batobus. The Seine "shuttle" gives us a unique, water-level view of the city and provides a stunning reminder of just how beautiful Paris can be. 

The full Batobus circuit takes a little over an hour and offers an up-close-and-personal view of the under-bridge world and life on the quais. From the graphic architecture and stone-carved statuary of the 22 bridges to the intimate moments of people's lives that you view for that fleeting moment as you chug by, the trip is a true montage of Paris.

The Batobus makes stops at eight key destinations (Hôtel de Ville, Louvre, Champs Elysées, Tour Eiffel, Musée d'Orsay, St Germain des Prés, Notre Dame, and Jardins des Plantes). You can "hop on and hop off" as often as you want during your one-day (14€), two-day (18€), five-day (21€), or yearly pass (60€).

All Photos by Meredith Mullins
There are six boats (trimarans) that "make port" every 17-35 minutes (frequency depends on the day and the season). Up to 200 passengers can ride under the glass enclosed space (heated in the winter) and on the open stern (called a "terrace" in the marketing materials). Nearly 2,000,000 passengers took to the Seine by Batobus in 2010 (with a record high one day of 14,000). So, hop on ... and see the world with a new fish-eye perspective.