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Paris in the Moonlight – A Trip Down the Seine River

There is nothing more romantic than drifting lazily down the Seine River with a full moon high overhead, a swath of silver light on the slowly moving river. As darkness descends and the City of Lights highlights mythical spots, monuments, historical buildings and ornate bridges, it is easy to fall in love with the city of Paris.

The Seine River goes through the heart of Paris bordering on ten of the twenty arrondisements. There are thirty-seven bridges over the river, the oldest being Pont Neuf built in 1607 and Pont Des Art which is a pedestrian bridge only.

As we began our cruise, the Eiffel Tower was the first of the many attractions we saw. An extravaganza of light that once seen, you will never forget. It was built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World Fair commemorating the centennial of the Revolution. It is 1,063 feet tall and at the time it was built, was the highest structure in the world.

Another sight to behold on the Right Bank, is the Louvre, one of the world’s largest museums and an historical monument. Housed in the Louvre Palace, it was built in the 12th century and opened as a museum in 1793. It contains sculptures, paintings, art objects, Egyptian antiquities, Greek and Roman art and Islamic art. Also, adjacent to the Louvre is the Tuileries Gardens created by Catherine de’Medici in 1564.

We drifted past quays and those, couples and others, lying or walking along the banks beneath the soft rays of the moonlight enjoying the tranquility of the Seine as it slowly flowed past. Eventually we came to Notre Dame Cathedral illuminated against the night-time sky. An historic cathedral in French Gothic architecture, construction began in 1163 but was not completed until 1345. And as we passed, the bells tolled as they have for hundreds of years.

Another historic site seen from the river is the Grand Palais easily recognizable because of its magnificent glass-domed roof. It is an exhibition hall and museum. Construction began in 1897 and was completed in 1900. It is ornately decorated in the Beaux-Arts architecture style. The Petit Palais adjacent to it was constructed about the same time.

The Palais de Chaillot initially erected for the 1878 World Fair was replaced in 1937 when Paris was host at another World Fair. The building houses several different museums and has an aquarium with forty-three tanks, 10,000 fish and a shark tunnel.

On the Left Bank of the Seine, is Musee d’Orsay, a museum which has mainly French art dated between 1848 to 1915. Many of the paintings are masterpieces by such renown artists as Monet, Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh. It is housed in a railway station built between 1898 and 1900.

And last but not least is the Moulin Rouge established in 1889. It was the birthplace of the modern form of can-can dance. I say last but not least because there are many other buildings, rich in architecture and resplendent in lights that line the Seine River and only a cruise at night will give you this view of a Paris that looks entirely different in the daylight.

There are many ways to explore and visit Paris but travelling down the Seine River, as we did on our first evening there, is a great introduction to the city and what it has to offer.

Sylvia Behnish