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Sailing couple, Reportage photo, Les Bandits │ Courtesy of Marin d'Eau Douce
Sailing couple, Reportage photo, Les Bandits │ Courtesy of Marin d'Eau Douce
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10 of Paris' Top Canal Cruises to Go On

Picture of Paul McQueen
Updated: 27 June 2017
There’s no more romantic (or exhilarating) way of exploring Paris than hopping on a boat, popping a bottle of something bubbly, and cruising along the Seine and the capital’s canals. If you have the luxury of time, think about taking an extended full-day cruise out of the city and exploring the idyllic and criminally underexplored landscapes of the surrounding region.

Paris Canal – Seine and Canal Saint-Martin

Paris Canal has been operating for over 30 years and offers 11 themed cruises on the Seine and the canals around Paris. The most famous of these is the ‘Croisière Seine et canal Saint-Martin’ and it takes in all the sites between the Place de la Concorde and the Bassin de l’Arsenal – the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and Notre-Dame – before traveling northwards, part of the way underground, to the Parc de la Villette and the nearby suburb of Pantin. All the company’s cruises are led by funny and cultured guides.

Paris Canal on the Seine │© Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons
Paris Canal on the Seine │ | © Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons

Paris Canal – La Grande Boucle

If you already know central Paris well and you have a little more time on your hands, then try another of Paris Canal’s cruises: ‘La Grande Boucle de Paris’. This route starts just the same as the one above but instead of turning east at the Parc de la Villette towards Pantin, the cruise goes west onto the Canal Saint-Denis, taking in the Stade de France before rejoining the stretch of the river famously painted by the Impressionists. The last site on this epic loop of the city’s waterways is none other than the Eiffel Tower.

Cruising on the Seine outside of Paris │© Pline / Wikimedia Commons
Cruising on the Seine outside of Paris │ | © Pline / Wikimedia Commons

Canauxrama – Canal de l’Ourcq

Canauxrama is another company that sails not just on the Seine but the canals and other major rivers in the Paris region. One of its most scenic routes takes you from the capital to the town of Trilbardou on the Canal de l’Ourcq, the smallest navigable canal in France. This one-day journey, which starts at 8:30am on the Bassin de la Villette and finishes back there (after a bus transfer) at 7pm, costs €64. The route’s best features include romantic stone bridges, striking rows of poplars, and the chance to experience the traditional techniques of 19th-century horse-drawn boaters.

Canauxrama on the Canal Saint-Martin│© Jmpoirier1 / Wikimedia Commons
Canauxrama on the Canal Saint-Martin│ | © Jmpoirier1 / Wikimedia Commons

Canauxrama – Land of the ‘Guinguettes’ on the Marne

Another excellent route that Canauxrama offers goes between Paris and Bry-sur-Marne. It begins in the Paris Arsenal Marina, which is overlooked by the July Column of the Place de la Bastille, and heads east along the Seine after taking in magnificent views of the rear of Notre-Dame. Other unique views along the way include the unusually designed Bibliothèque de France, the verdant and protected countryside of the region, and the many ‘guingettes’, or traditional floating nightclubs, that line the canal. While still a full-day cruise, it costs almost half the price of the route above at €38.

Canauxrama on the Seine │© David McSpadden / Wikimedia Commons
Canauxrama on the Seine │ | © David McSpadden / Wikimedia Commons

Marin d’Eau Douce

With Marin d’Eau Douce you can be the captain of your own cruise. The company has a fleet of 22 electric self-drive boats that can accommodate a maximum of 5, 7, or 11 people. No license of any kind is required to rent one and you can take to the 40 kilometers (64 miles) of waterways provided by the Canal Saint Martin, the Canal de l’Ourcq and the Bassin de la Villette for anywhere between one hour and a whole day. The company’s terrace also serves pre- or post-trip refreshments, including French charcuterie, cheese, salads, and tapas.

Marins d'eau douce, Reportage photo, Les Bandits │ Courtesy of Marin d'Eau Douce
Marins d’eau douce, Reportage photo, Les Bandits │ Courtesy of Marin d’Eau Douce

30′ Cuddy Cabin

The 30′ Cuddy Cabin is actually an antique Venetian taxi boat. Crafted exclusively from mahogany and steel by master craftsmen on the island of Murano, this beauty runs on a hybrid diesel-electric motor that makes for a smooth and peaceful ride. You climb aboard via the fore cockpit, the domain of your own private captain, and can chill out either in the enclosed central cabin, kitted out with two long seats, or in the open rear cockpit. The boat can accommodate up to eight people and rental prices start at €690 for an hour and a half.

30' Cuddy Cabin on the Seine │© Phillippe, Courtesy of GetMyBoat
30′ Cuddy Cabin on the Seine │ | © Phillippe, Courtesy of GetMyBoat

30ft Crompton Parisspeed RIB

The 30ft Crompton Parisspeed RIB has been racing through the heart of Paris since 1997. With a x225 power engine, it can reach speeds of up to 65 km/h. One of the best cruise options is the ‘Speed & Canal Saint-Martin’ route which costs €79 per person. This lasts an hour and three quarters and the time is split between a 20-minute high-speed ride on the Seine and a unique navigation through 1.9km of the vaults of the canal. The boat can accommodate up to 12 people and other cruises start at €45 per hour per person.

30ft Crompton Parisspeed RIB │© Xavier, Courtesy of GetMyBoat
30ft Crompton Parisspeed RIB │ | © Xavier, Courtesy of GetMyBoat

Le Prince

PARIS RIVER offers a variety of ride and rental options from their base in the western suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. ‘Le Prince’ is a stunning 12-foot pontoon boat that can comfortably accommodate 12 passengers, including those with reduced mobility. There are six types of cruises and themed tours, which sail on the Seine, Canal Saint-Martin, Canal Saint-Denis, and Canal de l’Ourcq. Prices are charged per hour (starting from €180) or for complete tours, with prices for these going up to €450. You’ll also pay slightly more if you choose to cruise in the evening or at the weekend.

Le Prince │© Islem, Courtesy of GetMyBoat
Le Prince │ | © Islem, Courtesy of GetMyBoat

Un bateau à Paris

Un bateau à Paris is a recent addition to Paris’ river and canal cruise scene, having set up shop in 2017. It is also one of the most affordable companies, with prices for its services starting at just €20 per hour. The minimum rental time for this company is slightly higher than average at two hours but nonetheless its cruises remain great value for money. Up to 12 guests can hop aboard its charming 24-foot yacht.

Un bateau à Paris │© Un bateau à Paris, Courtesy of GetMyBoat
Un bateau à Paris │ | © Un bateau à Paris, Courtesy of GetMyBoat

24′ Pontoon

This 24′ Pontoon has been on Parisian waters since 2014, taking up to 12 people at a time on a mixture of group and private cruises. For the former, prices vary between €49.50 and €80 per person and, for the latter, you can expect to pay €469 for a two-hour cruise. To complete the voyage, you can choose between a musical playlist or English or Spanish commentary from your skipper. You can also bring a picnic and beverages aboard or leave this to the crew to organize.

24' Pontoon │© Marianne, Courtesy of GetMyBoat
24′ Pontoon │ | © Marianne, Courtesy of GetMyBoat

Motor Yacht

This classic Motor Yacht can carry between two and twelve people on cruises lasting as little as one hour. The boat, which measures 12.5 meters in length and is made of exotic wood, is perfect for romantic evenings (especially marriage proposals), corporate or special occasion dinners, cocktail parties, or simply for sightseeing in style. Prices begin at €400 per hour and increase depending on how extravagant a cruise you choose to organize.

Motor Yacht │© Denis, Courtesy of GetMyBoat
Motor Yacht │ | © Denis, Courtesy of GetMyBoat