Fancy dining in style on a moored boat on the Seine across from an impressive replica of the Statue of Liberty on the island of Île aux Cygnes in Paris embraced by willows trees, and support a worthy humanitarian project?
Then head to Quai Liberty, a short walk from the Javel metro and RER station, across the river from the headquarters of Radio France, where you’ll find ‘Bateau Thalassa.’
Once a studio for a national television environmental program, it re-opened as a ‘floating restaurant’ at the end of last year and is a unique place to relax and watch cruise boats and barges drift by as you enjoy a finely-cooked meal ranging from meat to fish and vegetarian dishes.
Here you’re likely to meet Adrian Necula, from Galati in Romania’s Danube Delta, who has worked for the past 30 years in France, 15 of them on cruise boats on the Seine. This friendly manager is proud of the restaurant he helped set-up but also the philanthropic venture it supports. Indeed so proud is Adrian, he’d like to establish one in his own hometown.
The project, called ’Wake Up Cafe’ – is led by a national organisation launched six years ago to help former prisoners integrate back into society by offering full-time courses, indoor-outdoor support and a community of mutual aid. It is supported by various French Ministries and 175 partner companies which offer financial assistance, internships and job training opportunities. Wake up Café now has seven sites – in Paris, Montreuil, Sèvres, Lyon, Valence, Marseille and Montpellier.
As for ambience, food and service on the Bateau Thalassa, Adrian and his colleagues, including chef Alain Soivares and waiter, Rasid, have created a winning combination.
Tables for groups of varying sizes are well spaced on a ship deck wood floor with wicker chairs, crisp white tablecloths and gleaming cutlery. An abundance of natural light filters in through large port windows with excellent views over the Seine. Furnishings include a coral collection, model boats and a piano. Altogether, around 80 people can be seated here.
Glasses of refreshing champagne in hand, my companion and I enjoyed a leisurely lunch before walking up the stairs to enjoy our coffee alfresco on comfortable chairs on the open upper deck.
Our starters included generous, thinly-sliced portions of duck as well as Scottish salmon tartare with ginger, pomegranate and lime; cold pea soup with mint, caviar and sheep cheese and prawns tempura with herbs and a chilli dip, all accompanied with fresh, soft baguette.
Our mains comprised three tasty lamb chops with aubergine and zucchini and a thick slab of tuna with ratatouille. Other options on the menu include sea-bass, veal and risotto.
As for desserts, it’s impossible in France to avoid them, its pâtisserie being so renown worldwide, and we were not disappointed. It didn’t take us long to devour a delectable pyramide au chocolat noir and a generous millefeuille flavored with vanilla from Madagascar. The wine bar is well-stocked including a range of digestives such as Cognac, Limoncello and Chambord, a raspberry-blackberry liqueur from the Loire Valley.
Paris, of course, offers restaurants, bistros and brasseries of all kinds but dining on a moored boat on the Seine creates a memorable occasion, especially when it supports such a worthy cause.