As anyone who has spent time online looking for a dinner cruise in Paris can tell you- there are a LOT of options out there. Google “dinner on the Seine” and you’ll be treated to pages and pages of companies offering romantic, enchanting and unforgettable evenings on the river Seine. But if you’re 3000 miles away, how can you tell one from the other? For obvious reasons, my first advice would be to hire a wedding planner in Paris ☺, but my SECOND piece of advice would be to look to Yachts de Paris. In my opinion, Yachts de Paris offers the finest dining experience on water in Paris. They offer a luxe fleet with an impressive menu and impeccable service. I had the opportunity to sit down with Isabelle Guichard, Director of Commercial Operations of Yachts de Paris a few weeks ago, and she filled me in on just what makes Yachts de Paris so special.
parisian party: Let’s start with a little background information- How many boats are there in the Yachts de Paris fleet?
isabelle guichard: We have a range of 8 boats starting with the smallest, Cachemire, which can host up to 12 guests maximum, right up to Paquebot, which can accommodate up to 400 guests.
pp: One of the things that I love about working with Yachts de Paris is that each boat has its’ own style. How do you go about matching a yacht with a client- do you look at their own individual style, or is it just based on the size of their party?
ig: We look at both really- if it’s a wedding proposal, for instance, it makes sense to do it on Cachmire since it’s our most intimate boat. For a small, sit-down reception, say up to 50 guests- your clients would have a choice between Acajou and Victoria, which have the same capacity, but have different styles. Acajou is very classic, with a lot of light wooden features, and would be more for a traditional client looking to host a more traditional affair, whereas Victoria is decorated in deep reds, browns and inox touches- which would definitely suit clients with more neo-classical tastes.
pp: Speaking of decoration, another thing that is special about working with Yachts de Paris is the choice of ambiances that are available to choose from…
ig: Yes, we worked with a designer to give each boat it’s own individual style. Each boat has their own standard offering- for some boats it’s a crisp classical look, with white china, white linens, very classic. Other boats may have a more modern look- with gray or black tableware and linens. From those standard offerings, clients can modify and choose from anything else that we offer- they may want to change the shape of their stemware, or color of linens, for example. Working with the client or their wedding designer, we can create an individual, customized look just for their event.
pp: Typically, when I first start working with destination clients, I find that they know that they want to get married in Paris, but don’t really know if they want to get married on the Seine, in a chateau, in a hotel or what…What would you say are some of the benefits of hosting a destination event in Paris on the water?
ig: Well, if you’re comparing getting married on the Seine with a venue like a hotel or other reception site, the biggest benefit of course is the location. You’re actually moving through the heart and history of Paris – it’s hard to compare other things with that!
pp: So true! But there are so many cruise options in Paris. If you’re trying to plan a wedding from overseas, it really can be hard to compare, especially since they all seem to be offering the same thing. What do you think sets Yachts de Paris apart from some of the other cruise companies in Paris?
ig: Speaking honestly- We are the best! (laughs) You’re right, though. There are a lot of companies on the river, and people do have to be careful. Some of them are private owners who stopped using the boat for commercial use, like transporting rice and stuff, and then rebuilt the boat out for a restaurant. They have absolutely no experience. This is actually very dangerous for someone who is trying to book on their own instead of with a wedding planner or agency. They see that a certain boat is cheaper than others, and will make their decision based on that. Those are, of course, extreme situations. You also have companies, like Bateaux Parisian for instance, which are experienced and professional, but offer more standardized services. For a certain price you are offered a certain package and you must take that package. You can’t redecorate with that sort of fleet, for instance. There’s not much room for customization. Also, with some of these other companies, you must have a minimum number of guests before you can privatize a boat, otherwise you must share the boat with other parties. Because our fleet is so varied, we’re able to offer privatization with as little as 2 guests!
Another major factor that sets us apart is our extraordinary know-how in our service, staff, and food. We work with Lenôtre, one of the most well-known caterers in Paris. Our clients trust us and feel comfortable with us because they know that we know how to do it. The boats are amazing- they are very well taken care of, and our service is impeccable. In all honesty, we don’t see other cruise companies as our competition, we consider ourselves to be in the same league as other fine dining establishments, like service that you’d find at the George V.
pp: I’d like to talk a bit about the Les Coulisses du Mariage, which is coming up…
ig: Yes, we are very proud to be hosting Les Coulisses du Mariage this year. This is really the luxury wedding salon of Paris, and we are very excited to be presenting it. Stylist Cendrine Dominguez has designed the show this year, and has used the water as her inspiration- playing with transparencies, blending wood and plant life- with beautiful and inspirational results. For those who aren’t familiar with it, The Coulisses du Mariage showcases some of the finest wedding vendors in Paris: dress designers, catering, photographers, hairdressers … all that a couple needs to plan a haute gamme wedding in Paris.
The Coulisses du Mariage will take place this Thursday, November 5th from 12:00 – 11:00PM at Yachts de Paris at Port de Javel Haut, Paris 15ème. It really is a fabulous show, and I’m excited to see what new elements Yachts de Paris will bring to it. A grand merci to Isabelle from Yachts de Paris for taking the time to chat with me. See you on the Seine!