Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Les bateaux-moches

That's what my friend and frequent commenter CHM calls them. It means "the ugly boats" and is a play on their actual name, les Bateaux-Mouches. The name (literally "fly boats") is derived from the neighborhood in Lyon (le quartier de la Mouche) where a certain number of the boats were built as passenger transports for the Paris Universal Exposition in 1867.

The upper deck of the bateau-mouche "l'Hirondelle." The lower deck is usually glassed in and heated in cold weather.

This particular style of boat was used since earlier in the nineteenth century to transport freight or passengers along rivers and canals in France, but it wasn't until about 1950 that one of those boats built for the 1867 expo was used in a new venture: taking people on pleasure cruises up and down the Seine. The name "bateaux-mouches" was registered as a trademark and the business thrived, as it does today.

The sign above the ticket office.

I've taken these cruises a few times over the years. They're really nice, day or night, especially when it's warm and you can be outside on the upper deck. There are all kinds of cruises available these days, including dinner cruises. There are also several other companies that offer similar cruises on the river, but I think the Bateaux-Mouches is the most well known.


  1. Sorry to see that your neck is still giving you major trouble.

  2. It is pretty amazing that one from the mid nineteenth century survived.

  3. As I recall I found this "pearl" in a Washington Post's article about Paris. The writer seemed to be a specialist of things French and every time she used a French word or expression in one of her articles there was something wrong, but never as funny as the "Bâteaux-Moches." When I read that I couldn't stop laughing. In another article of hers I found three big mistakes, and I mean big. LOL

    Sorry about your neck. Do you think the laurel hedge is the culprit?

  4. Next time you should try the Ô Chateau champagne cruise.

  5. judy, me too. If things don't improve soon it'll be back to the doctor's office.

    andrew, yes. I'm not sure that it's still around, but apparently it was in 1950.

    chm, Ken reminded me of that... I had forgotten and just thought it was yours! I really don't know what did my neck in this time. The hedge was done well over a week before this happened.

    starman, there's an idea! I look at that blog from time to time... I'll have to check it out. Did you do it?

  6. Yes, we did. It was really nice. There were only seven of us. They let you try three kinds of them bubbly, and you can have as much of them as you can drink. It's really worth the €40 or €50. Plus they follow the regular Seine cruise path.


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