Paris' Amphibious Bus

Paris debuts amphibious bus

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PARIS: Watching a bus speed down a little path into a river may be an odd or even a concerning sight, but not in Paris.

Meet Paris’ newest tourist attractions: an amphibious bus that drives along the city streets, then instantly converts into a river-going pleasure boat.

Amphibious tour buses, or more commonly known as ducks, have been used for years to ferry tourists around other cities in the world, and they are often modified military sea-borne assault craft.

“So here you can see the front of the bus is shaped like a boat’s prow, to allow it to sail in the water more easily than if it were a squared bus front, which would slow it down. Here is the access footbridge, which is used for boarding because, compared to a traditional bus, this deck is particularly high, to be as far from the water as possible, for safety reasons,” said Paul Michel, President and co-founder of Canards de Paris, as he explained the anatomy of the Parisian duck.

While some have made headlines by sinking, or catching fire, the version in use in Paris is a new purpose-built design constructed largely in France, and, according to its operators, it is the first amphibious vehicle to gain a licence to carry tourists on the roads and waterways of Paris.

“All the life jackets are up here, life belts, and there are many safety features for sailing on the river. You can see the wheels here. The wheels stay in the water. People often ask if they fold up or not, but no, they stay in the water and they can even help us navigate. The front wheels are so big that they allow us to direct (the bus). So the driver uses the steering wheel on the ground but also on the water,” said Michel yang further explained on the safety features of the boat.

The tours are currently run by a firm called Canards de Paris, which are French for ducks of Paris.

On an excursion this week, the vehicle in conventional bus mode carried passengers past sights including the Arc De Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.

Later, the bus switches to boat mode, engaging its propeller at the rear, to calmly float along the River Seine.

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