The Seine rises in Burgundy on the Langres Plateau, runs through Champagne-Ardenne, Ile de France and Normandy before terminating in the Bay of the Seine area of the English Channel. It used to form one unique river with the Loire six million years ago; some of its current tributaries are the Yonne, Marne and Eure. As it is prone to flood, river improvements are constantly ongoing. This 777km long French watercourse crosses Troyes, Paris and Rouen among others. Its name comes from the Celtic Sicauna, which is argued to mean 'sacred river'. Major waterway, it links Paris to the Channel and therefore nestles two of the main French river ports: Rouen and Gennevilliers in for the Paris area.
The river has played an important part in historical events such as the Battle for Paris and is also the scene of several legends, e.g. the 'unknown woman of the Seine'. It has also inspired many writers and painters like Seurat, Monet and Turner. The Seine is probably the most famous French river for it is the archetypal scenery of romantic photographs and paintings of Paris.
Bridges on the Seine River are often real works of art. The most renowned ones within Paris are the Pont Mirabeau, Pont Alexandre III and Pont Neuf (the oldest one dating back to 1607). The cable-stayed Normandie bridge is another noteworthy monument linking Honfleur and Le Havre.
As regards navigation, oceangoing vessels can dock at Rouen while commercial riverboats can use the river from Bar-sur-Seine. Locks are controlling the tides and since the Seine is only 24m above sea level, it is slow flowing and easily navigable. Nearly its whole length is available for recreational boating with many excursion boats offering sightseeing tours of notably the Rive Droite and Rive Gauche in Paris.
Not to mention sightseeing, the Seine River makes many leisures available. Water activities prevail with a wide range on offer: sailing, water skiing, rowing, canoeing, kayaking, pedalo, swimming, snorkelling... Fishermen will be delighted as the river nestles many species - carp, roach, pike and perch especially -; however fish are less numerous in the Paris area. Cycling, horse-riding or simply walking along its banks are good ideas to discover France and enjoy the beautiful landscapes.
Seine & Tourism
- Paris: the French capital is worldwide renowned for its artistic and cultural life as well as for fashion and luxury products. Besides, it boasts an outstanding historical and architectural heritage. The Seine banks are notably part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
- Troyes: this medieval town of traditions not only boasts a remarkable typical architecture but also tasty local produce, a lively cultural life as well as renowned fairs. Its unique atmosphere is besides really worth to experience.
- Rouen: Rouen benefits from an exceptional heritage and its museum collections are among the richest ones in Europe. The town is notably renowned for its impressive Gothic cathedral, regarded as real masterpiece.
- Fontainebleau Forest: it is one of the biggest and most beautiful forests in France. If this green area first allows a breath of fresh air, its mysteriously shaped trees and rocks furthermore contribute to give it a 'magic' atmosphere. It is indeed the setting of many legends and is supposed to have nestled an ancient unknown civilization.