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Whenever we travel, especially to a capital city, we like to ride the hop-on / hop-off bus. This is a sightseeing bus which we find is a great and practical way of going around the city. It allows you to get on and off as you please along the route. Moreover, it gives you the opportunity to see and visit landmarks at your own pace without having to work out complex public transportation maps.
On the other hand, there is a price to pay. ⬇️⬇️
These are the prices I got from Big Bus Paris Tours. As you can see, it is slightly cheaper if you get your tickets online. Click here for their website.
Through the years, the husband, S, and I have experienced going on several hop-on/hop off buses in Paris. Different names but always the same concept.
During our last Paris trip in March (click here for the post), I decided to get tickets for the Batobus. The concept is basically the same as the bus, but it's a boat on the Seine River. The hop-on / hop-off of river tours. Unfortunately, we didn't get to do it then because I fell ill. Since the tickets are valid 6 months after purchase, I held on to them for this trip. I just had to get another ticket for the Husband's aunt.
Before I start sharing my opinion about the experience, let me give you a bit more information about the Batobus.
The Batobus is a river boat that allows you to enjoy a nice and relaxing ride on the Seine River while visiting the city's main landmarks. There are 9 main attraction stops and you can hop-on hop-off at any stop. The first boat leaves in the morning and it completes a final round to the Eiffel Tower at the end of the day. The time schedule will vary depending on the season.
Here are the prices for the Batobus. As you can see above, the prices are cheaper than the bus tour. They are also slightly cheaper if you buy them online. Click here for their website.
So now comes the big question - how did our experience go?
While the bus and boat sightseeing tour have the same concept, it is also different and for a first-time tourist - I would definitely recommend the bus. It is pricier for a reason after all. It's because you can actually see the monuments from your seat. From the boat tour, you can't really see anything so you actually have to hop-on and hop-off each time.
With the bus, I loved doing a first round first, sitting on the top deck. The view is really nice on top. With the boat, you basically can't see anything except for the concrete walls and stairs on the side of the river. Sometimes, you have to walk a few hundred meters to the actual monument, contrary to the bus in which they usually stop in front or pretty close to it.
Also, the bus tour is limited to monuments in proximity to the Seine River, so that unfortunately leaves out the Opera Garnier, Arc de Triomphe, and the Avenue des Champs Elysées. Three things I think you shouldn't miss when visiting Paris!
The weather can be tricky for both the bus and the boat tour. If it rains, it's impossible to sit on the top deck of the bus. If it's too warm (like it was for us), it was rather difficult to stay in the boat. I don't know what's worse, but at least if it rains, you can always stay on the bottom deck of the bus. The warmth of the boat was exhausting and not a good moment for us at least. It felt very stuffy and a claustrophobic and thankfully there was an open space at the back of the boat, but it had limited space.
So now you know how I feel about Batobus. As I mentioned earlier, I would recommend the bus tour for first-time tourist. In my opinion, the sightseeing bus is perfect for day sightseeing, while the boat tour might be a nice complement to do. If taking a boat ride on the Seine River is something you absolutely want to do, then perhaps a night tour on the river cruise might be a good idea. Very romantic too! ;)
Batobus does not provide that service, but I'm sure you can easily find another company that does.