The increasing variety of river cruise itineraries is making the non-coastal capitals of Europe more accessible to cruise travelers. Paris, France, is a perfect example: it’s 150 miles from the English Channel, and ocean-going ships must dock at the port of Le Havre or at Rouen. River cruise ships, however, can travel up the winding Seine river right into Paris, docking near the Eiffel Tower and other incredible sights in the City of Lights.
From the river, you’ll see some of the dozens of bridges that cross the Seine, including Pont Neuf, which connects both banks of the Seine to Île de la Cité, where Paris began. The island is home to the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris; climb the stairs inside the towers for a wonderful view of the city. There’s also Sainte-Chapelle, a royal chapel in the Gothic style; and the sobering history of the Conciergerie prison, where thousands of prisoners awaited execution during the French Revolution.
In addition to the Eiffel Tower, be sure to see the Arc de Triomphe, the magnificent arch that Napoleon intended as a monument to his military success. From the arch, follow the boulevard Champs-Élysées to Place de la Concorde, the city’s largest square. While King Louis XVI and other noteworthy Parisians were guillotined here during the French Revolution, much of the square’s history has been peaceful. Today, it’s decorated with fountains, statues and the stunning Luxor Obelisk.
Monmartre is a hilly neighborhood watched over by Sacre-Coeur, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The beautiful dome and the gardens are open to the public. The steps are a popular place to sit in the evening as the lights of Paris come on.
Paris’ Musee du Louvre is simply one of the finest art museums in the world. Everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, but there are also enormous collections of paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture, plus antiquities from the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Asian empires.
Beyond its monuments and museums, Paris is full of charming streets lined with unique shops, exceptional restaurants and delightful cafes. Plan to spend a few days in the city before or after a cruise on the Seine, and you’ll dream of the day that you can return!
Scott Hunter is a world traveler who wants to be your return on-life advisor to help you have an ongoing, conscious strategy for optimizing your most valuable non-renewable asset, your free leisure time.