Here held tight
So in love, so in love
We stand, hand in hand
In Paris at sunset
On this bridge
…above the river Seine
By Gwen Dickerson
So many scenes were painted by famous artists like Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Pierre Auguste Renoir and others, films were shot, poems and songs were written – and they all have one setting, the charming River Seine.
The second largest river after Loir, the River Seine is one of the well-known commercial waterways of France and a fascinating tourist attraction within the city of Paris. With two small islands (IIe de la Cite and IIe Saint-Louis), a wealth of splendid bridges that form a picturesque backdrop for romantics and artists, stunning riverbanks boasting floating restaurants, cafes and discos for those who can afford it, the River Seine is one of Europe’s most scenic and great historical rivers that for centuries has dazzled travelers from all over the world.
Etymology of the river’s name comes from the Latin Sequana which in its turn is the Romantic version of the Celtic-Gallic word Sicauna, meaning ‘sacred river.’ Rising on the Plateau de Langres, 18 mi northwest of Dijon (in the French Alps), the River Seine flows through Paris geographically dividing its center into Left bank (Rive Gauche) and Right bank (Rive Droite) and then onto Le Havre, where it meets the English Channel. The river has played an important role in such historical events as the Battle for Paris, and is also the scene of several legends, as the ‘unknown woman of the Seine.’ In a nutshell, Paris would not be Paris if it was not home to the stunning River Seine.
The best way to explore the river at its best is the Seine River cruise, one of the most popular attractions of Paris that will take you right through the heart of the city. The glass-covered boats floating through the miles-long network of canals provide breathtaking views of the city, its magnificent architecture and great historical landmarks all year round, combined with the best of urban and rural French culture. The south bank of the Seine River is where tourists can enjoy the fascinating Eiffel Tower and the amazing Musée d’Orsay, while the Louvre, Grand Palais and the Concorde are found on the north bank of the river. Do not miss out a Seine dinner cruise with the unique opportunity to experience fine French dinner with the spectacular Illuminations of Paris at night. From exploring the beauty of Versailles to visiting the home of Claude Monet in Giverny with its wonderful gardens to discovering the Alabaster coast your Seine River Cruise will turn into memories you will remember forever.
- The length of the River Seine is 776 km and the drainage area is 78,650 sq km.
- In 1991 the banks of the Seine were added to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
- The river Seine passes under 37 impressive bridges, with the oldest being the Pont Neuf, ironically called ‘the new bridge,’ whose first stone was laid in the presence of the Queen Mather, Catherine de Midicis in 1578 by Henry III.
- The Pont Des Arts is one of the popular bridges that unlike other bridges is constructed of metal and is entirely pedestrian.
- The newest bridge, Pont Charles de Gaulle, was completed in the summer of 1996.
- George Seurat’s famous pointillist masterpiece, ‘Sunday afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,’ is set on an island in the Seine.
- Long ago the river was the main route of transportation and protection for Paris.
- The river’s main tributaries are the Aube, Marne and Oise rivers from the north and the Yonne and Eure rivers from the south.
- The Seine basin is one of France’s most productive agricultural areas.
- In 885 A.D. Vikings used the River Seine to invade France.
Take a trip down the soothing waters of the River Seine – the ‘real essence of Paris’ and explore the wonders of this slow-moving waterway and the many attractions that can be seen from the river. Do not miss out to stroll over the river’s bridges after the sunset as the City of Light shines brighter in the reflection of the Seine.