I love the barges of Paris. 
One of the paintings I love the most in my house is an 19th century winter scene of snowy quais of the Seine with barges and row boats.

The barges on the Seine in Paris are what the house boats are to Sausalito California. They are floating homes for the most part but they are also "nomad" homes as I believe all have to be able to move i.e. have a working motor and be "sea worthy" (or "Seine worthy in this case) at all times.

My brother lives on one and I must say, it is a fun way to live; he would never live anywhere else. The very first thing he did when he bought it quite a few years ago was to get it to a shipyard and have all the mechanical parts refurbished and ready to cross the Atlantic...almost.
His peniche is second from the quai- dock, like the one below which is the best position apart from being alone, as you can leave for an hour or a day or more whenever you wish. The closest ones to the quai need to make an appointment to leave I suppose. It is also the one on whose deck the second boat's inhabitants and guests walk to reach their own boat. And there are rules for this. You must go across on sometimes rickety gang planks and through the front of first and sometimes second boat and onto yours. 

Some of the peniches on the Seine are huge and usually house restaurants or are tour boats. Others are much smaller and, as is the case with this one, quite cute.

I lived for a few months on the Canal St.Martin in Paris some years ago and loved seeing the peniches going through the locks. Everyone stops and follows the progress of the water going in and out and the whole spectacle is a lot of fun. The bad news is that the area was very unsafe at the time and I lost no time leaving the Canal to find a less stressful home near the very safe, very conservative Ecole Militaire.

The interior of the boats are very spacious and are frequently divinely decorated. Wood is always part of the design and the different levels of the space make for a wonderfully unique volume with stairs, surprisingly normal height ceilings and a multitudes of portholes or small windows.

Why do I believe this is my brother's favorite piece of "art" in the whole boat...

Peniches are large, very large- considering these are boats-, some up to 260+ sq. meters (2800+ sq. ft.)

Living on a peniche in Paris is like living in an apartment with the very rare perk: a terrace. Usually a big terrace. And a rather "public" terrace. If you move around the Seine as we did one time on a very sunny Paris day, (we went from one end of the Seine (the Maison de la Radio) to the other (the Quai Branly) passing the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and going under at least a dozen bridges) everyone on the bridges were wishing Happy Birthday as we ate my son's birthday cake on the terrace deck.

If you are now tempted to live, or at the very least, rent a peniche for a few days, go check this one on the Parisaddress website.

au revoir.


  1. I have always wondered about these barges and the people that live on them. Fabulous pictures and narrative -- why, you even have photos of the insides.

    Excellent "up close and personal" reporting told from someone who has been there and lived it. I have bookmarked this post for future re-reading!

  2. I had no idea they could be so luxurious! Thanks for sharing all the interior shots.