Seine River Cruise and Paris Illuminations by Minivan
In some ways, this was the most exciting part of my introductory visit to Paris. If you want to make good use of your first night in the City of Lights, you probably don't want to sleep through it, even after a trans-Atlantic flight. I decided that I wanted a tour for the night of my arrival. Since I rarely sleep on planes, I needed a tour that departed late enough to allow me time for at least a nap. In addition, being new to Paris, I wanted hotel pickup to ensure that I would not miss part or all of my first tour of the city. When I discovered this tour on Viator's website, It seemed to be exactly what I had in mind. This tour began with hotel pickup around 8:30pm. My flight arrived mid afternoon allowing me time to nap for a couple of hours before the tour pickup. We went first to the river Seine where we boarded one of the numerous tour boats. The night was perfect; mild temps, only a slight breeze, and clear skies. Visibility was at or near 100%. I quickly discovered that there is nothing quite like an evening cruise on The Seine. The buildings on either bank and those on the Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis which sit in the middle of the river, had lights illuminating their most striking features. The many handsomely lit bridges crossing the Seine added to the light show.
The most striking display was ahead of us on our return up river. We went around a bend in the river and came upon a fully lit Eiffel Tower. Shortly thereafter, as the time hit the top of the hour, the Tower became alive with another layer of lights, sparkling lights. These would continue for several more minutes before disappearing entirely until the top of the next hour when they would be brought back to life. The entire Tower remained lit through the evening.
That exciting introduction was promptly followed by a mini van tour of the city.
The van (with commentary) took us through the city passing many famous squares, monuments and buildings. The van brought us through the Place de la Concorde past La Madeleine and then on to Place de l'Opera and the striking example of the belle epoque, the Palais Garnier, the old opera house.
The tour continued through various well lit streets, boulevards and squares.
The pace was not rushed but informative and I was satisfied that finally I had made it Paris.
All told, the entire tour took a little over three hours. It was just enough.
If I have not already said so, I strongly recommend it, especially for first timers.
Instant immersion was what I wanted and this tour came through.