Top 5 best drinking spots along the Seine river
You’ve just arrived in Paris and have some free time in between all of your exploration. What should you do? Perhaps the most Parisian activity is to have a drink or two by the riverside. This article is all about the top five best drinking spots along the Seine river! So read on to discover how to enjoy the city like a local, with a glass of wine in hand.
The Seine river winds like a serpent through the middle of Paris, separating the City of Light into its iconic left and right banks. During the warmer months, the riverbanks (or quai in French) become a hub for picnickers, student parties, family outings and everything in between. The river Seine is truly the heart and soul of the city, which is why Parisians love to gather here to share a drink and enjoy the views. You’d be hard-pressed to find a local who doesn’t count drinking by the river as one of their most cherished pastimes.
Of course, since the river runs through the center of the city, there are tons of riverbanks. The five listed here are the places I believe have the best atmosphere and most beautiful views. But don’t just take my word for it, try a few to discover which one is your favorite!
1. Square du Vert-Galant
This square, or park as we could say in English actually dates back to 1884 and is one of the most beautiful yet little-known parks in the city. It’s located right on the east corner of the Ile de la Cité which is the island also home to Notre-Dame. To access the park, take the metro to Pont Neuf station and cross the Pont Neuf bridge to the island. There’s a horse statue in the middle of the bridge, and a staircase just behind it. Head down the stairs and you’re in the park!
The Vert-Galant is well-maintained park with grassy lawns and gardens is bordered by the river on both sides. In the main part of the park there are plenty of benches, but you can also sit on the grass. The best views are just a little further! If you head out towards the far end of the park, you’ll find a secluded corner with a lovely willow tree overlooking the water. In my mind, under this tree is one of the best drinking spots along the Seine. You have a beautiful view of the Louvre and the river traffic plus the giant tree provides just the right amount of shade.
This spot is one of Paris’ better kept secrets, but those in the know really love it. I would recommend getting there as early as you can to scout out a spot, especially during the Summer months because it can get crowded!
2. Porte de l’Arsenal
While not exactly on the main riverbanks, this canal is definitely one of the best drinking spots along the Seine. Running from the Place de la Bastille until Quai de la Rapée, this 600 meter long canal connects the Canal Saint-Martin to the river Seine. Originally, the Porte de l’Arsenal was used for commerce and trade, but now serves as a port for houseboats and various small vessels. Today, the canal is lined with boats and barges, some more permanent than others. The grassy banks slope towards the water and are dotted with trees and decorative gardens where you can catch a pretty incredible sunset. I think the central location, privacy and the beautiful surroundings make this one of the best drinking spots along the Seine.
Even though Porte de l’Arsenal is super central, it’s little-known by most Parisians, which makes it an even better spot. I actually lived here for over three years before I ever heard of it! To access this charming little park, just head south from the Bastille monument along Boulevard de la Bastille, until you see the canal. It’s about a five minute walk, and there are stairs to access the quai on either side of the canal. Perhaps the only downside of this place is that is closes at dusk, and local officials will come around to make sure everyone leaves the park. But if you feel like continuing your evening, no problem! Just walk the length of the canal until you reach the Seine, and enjoy another great spot along the river.
3. Statue of Liberty/Ile aux Cygnes
You might not know it, but we actually have our very own statue of liberty in Paris! Located on the Ile aux Cygnes, an island in the Seine, is a lovely park and of course, the famous statue. The smaller replica of France’s gift to the U.S. stands 11.5 meters tall, compared with the 93 meter-tall original in New York. The statue is all the way at the end of this narrow, green island and is an exceptional place to have a drink along the river. Once you reach the statue, there is a little cobblestone pavilion, surrounded by water on three sides. This little spot provides a panoramic view of the Seine, the Eiffel Tower and gorgeous Parisian architecture. If you can, stay until after sunset. The city lights up after dark and you can even see the Eiffel tower sparkle!
To get to the Ile aux Cygnes, go to the middle of the Pont Bir-Hakeim or the Pont de Grenelle. In the middle of the bridge, there’s a staircase leading down to the island. Once you’ve reached the island, just continue on the main path and you will end up right under the statue of liberty!
4. Latin Steps
Next up on my list for the best drinking spots along the Seine is known by locals simply as the Latin Steps. The name comes from the location in the middle of the Latin Quarter, but also from the dancing which takes place there. During the summer months, the wide, circular steps along the riverbank Quai Saint-Bernard are transformed into a public dance floor. From salsa to tango to ballroom dancing, there’s a bit of everything here. And the best part is you can join in for free no matter your level! There’s some kind of free dance event organized almost every weekday night in summer. Groovy music and a gorgeous atmosphere make this spot one of Parisian nightlife’s best kept secrets. This is a great opportunity to see another side of Paris, and maybe even learn some new dance moves. Have a look online to see what is happening when.
With dancing or without, the Quai Saint-Bernard is no doubt one of the best drinking places along the Seine! The steps provide natural seating, and there is a great view overlooking the river and the modern architecture across the water. Not to mention, go here on a night with dancing and you’ll be treated to free music and lively company. To get to the Latin steps, simply head to the Jardin Tino-Rossi and follow the signs to the riverbank. This garden is really easy to find! It’s in the 5th arrondissement between the Pont d’Austerlitz and the Pont de Sully.
5. Port Debilly
A great location and an even better view make Port Debilly one of the best drinking spots along the Seine. Out of all the places to have a drink by the river, this is by far one of my favorites. The Port Debilly is actually the name of the riverbank directly across from the Eiffel Tower! This part of the quai is much less crowded than in the center of the city, this is because the 16th arrondissement is largely residential. Houseboats and personal sailboats are moored along the wide riverbanks here, but there’s plenty of room to sit and have a drink.
The Eiffel Tower is right across the river, making this one of the best views in the city. I definitely recommend heading here for the sunset! Nothing beats enjoying a drink on the banks of the Seine and watching the sun illuminate the Eiffel Tower and slowly sink below the horizon. Plus, after dark the tower lights up, making for a lovely (and free!) light show.
You can easily access the Port Debilly from the Pont d’Iéna. This is the bridge that actually runs directly under the Eiffel Tower! On the Trocadéro side, there’s a staircase leading down to the riverbank on both sides of the bridge. Since the surrounding area is pretty residential, there aren’t very many supermarkets around. The best idea is to get your picnic supplies beforehand and then enjoy the Port Debilly!
Bonus: Quai de Jemmapes/Quai de Valmy
Since there are so many great drinking spots along the Seine river, it was too hard to choose just 5! So here is a bonus location for you to enjoy a drink on the riverbanks. It’s actually one of my favorite places to have a drink in Paris. While this spot may be a little off the beaten path, it’s definitely worth checking out. Though it’s not on the main riverbanks, the banks of Canal Saint-Martin are the place to have a drink along the water. This is especially true during the summer months!
The river Seine runs through the center of Paris, while the Canal Saint-Martin is a canal in the northern part of the city. This canal connects the Bassin de la Villette with the Port de l’Arsenal, which then empties into the Seine. The canal was originally made in 1825 to bring fresh water to northern Paris. Nowadays, the banks along the canal are a gathering place for Parisian hipsters and trendy students. The lively atmosphere and cool local commerce make the canal a local favorite. Since they are located in the trendy 10th and 11th arrondissements of Paris, the Quai de Valmy and the Quai de Jemmapes are some of the most popular spots to have a drink along the canal! Grab a bottle of your favorite beverage and some snacks and head to either side of the canal for a classic Parisian evening.
To get to the Canal Saint-Martin, take the metro to Jacques Bonsergent (line 5) or to République (lines 3, 5, 8, 9, 11) metro stations. The canal is within short walking distance of both stops, it should take just 5 or 10 minutes to reach on foot. Plus, on the way there, you can find plenty of bakeries, supermarkets and wine shops! These are great places to stock up on some picnic supplies. Once you reach the canal, simply walk until you find the ideal spot, and enjoy!
Alright, well that just about rounds up my picks for the top five best drinking spots along the Seine river. Whether you opt for an island picnic with an incredible view or simply a quiet reprise from the city hustle, I hope you’ll find what you’re looking for in this article. Having a drink along the Seine in Paris is truly one of the locals’ favorite past times. I hope that it will also be one of your best experiences in Paris! There’s nothing quite like cozying up on the ancient riverbanks to catch a sunset over the city of light, drink in hand.
Thanks so much for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed this article! By this point, you have learned a bit about the best places to have a drink in Paris. The city is gorgeous and there is so much to be discovered here. Be sure to do some exploring and discover your own favorite spot. And don’t hesitate to share with us any suggestions or discoveries of your own. We always love to hear from our readers!
As always, please don’t hesitate to let us know about any questions or comments you may have. We wish you an amazing experience in the city of lights.
See you soon in Paris!