Wednesday, December 11, 2013


This famous river flows from east to west through the heart of the city and divides Paris's Left Bank and Right Bank.

The Seine is a 776 km long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Source-Seine, 30 kilometers northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre (and Honfleur on the left bank). It is navigable by ocean-going vessels as far as Rouen, 120 km from the sea. Over 60% of its length, as far as Burgundy, is negotiable by commercial riverboats and nearly its whole length is available for recreational boating; excursion boats offer sightseeing tours of the Rive Droite and Rive Gauche within the city of Paris.

There are 37 bridges within Paris and dozens more spanning the river outside the city. Examples in Paris include the Pont Louis-Philippe and Pont Neuf, the latter of which dates back to 1607. Outside the city, examples include the Pont de Normandie, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world, which links Le Havre to Honfleur.

Rev: "Stunning walk taking in Paris in the sun, by the river with my wife. Stunning views. Have also taken a boat trip along the river before which is a must as it's a wonderful way to take in the city!"
The name "Seine" comes from the Latin Sequana. Some have argued that Sicauna is cognate to the name of Saône River. However, a suggested relationship to the River Shannon in Ireland is unlikely, given the very different forms of the two. Gaelic an tSiona, dative Sionainn, is from Prehistoric Irish *Sinona. Another proposal has it that Sequana is the Latin version of the Gaulish Issicauna Lower-Icauna, which would be the diminutive of Icauna, which was the Gaulish name of the Yonne River. Some believe the ancient Gauls considered the Seine to be a tributary of the Yonne, which indeed presents a greater average discharge than the Seine.

Rev: "The only question about the Seine is how you'll experience it. Take a cruise, especially after dark when the buildings are floodlit and the Eiffel Tower sparkles at the top of the hour. Walk along the banks (preferably in daylight or when it's still crowded). Cross all of the bridges. Have the ring scam tried on you a few times. You don't have to do it all at once, just avoid the temptation to do all of your travel by Metro and take advantage of opportunities to see more of the river that is the heart of Paris."
The river flowing through Paris would be called Yonne if the standard rules of geography were applied. Some identify the river Sikanos, origin (according to Thucydides) of the Sicanoi of Sikelia (Sicily), with the river Sequana. According to Pierre-Yves Lambert, a specialist of the Gaulish language, Sequana retains QV, that is unusual in Gaulish, which is normally a P-Celtic language, but he compares with the month name EQVOS, read on the Coligny Calendar. The name of the Gaulish tribe Sequani derives from it. The digram QV of Sequana could recover a whole syllable, that is to say [se-ku-wa-na], like ucuetis [u-ku-we-tis], but its meaning remains unknown.

Rev: "If you visit Paris it will be hard to miss the River Seine as it flows right through the heart of Paris. There are many ways you can experience it: views from the Eiffel Tower are exceptional; crossing the many bridges; walking alongside it; take a river cruise, especially at night when the city is lit up."
The sources where the Seine rises have been owned by the city of Paris since 1864. Later an artificial grotta was laid out to contain the main source and the statue of a nymph. On the same site there are still the buried remains of a gallo-roman temple. Small statues of the dea Sequana "Seine godess" and other ex voti found at the same place are now exhibited in the Dijon archeological museum.

Rev: "We caught the boat from the Ile de la Cite, itself well worth a visit because the little island is the energetic centre of the city. The boat ride is inexpensive and lasts for just over an hour during which you get to see many of the iconic sites of Paris including the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame cathedral. The views from the river give some great angles for photos so being out on deck is a must for photographers. The commentary is interesting and in English as well as French. I'd say this is a good start to a visit of Paris because you get a potted history and views of some sites all in a short space of time - then you can go and explore for yourself in more detail. For a different experience you may also want to try the evening cruise to see this beautiful city illuminated, its much more romantic seen from the water -enjoy!"
The Seine is dredged and oceangoing vessels can dock at Rouen, 120 km from the sea. Commercial riverboats can use the river from Bar-sur-Seine, 560 km to its mouth. At Paris, there are 37 bridges. The river is only 24 metres above sea level 446 km from its mouth, making it slow flowing and thus easily navigable. The Seine Maritime, 105.7 km from the English Channel at Le Havre to Rouen, is the only portion of the Seine used by ocean going craft. The tidal section of the Seine Maritime is followed by a canalized section with four large multiple locks until the mouth of the Oise River at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Multiple locks at Bougival / Chatou and at Suresnes lift the vessels to the level of the river in Paris, where the mouth of the Marne River is located.

Upstream from Paris seven locks ensure navigation to Saint Mammès, where the Loing mouth is situated. Through an eighth lock the river Yonne is reached at Montereau-Fault-Yonne. From the mouth of the Yonne, larger ships can continue upstream to Nogent-sur-Seine. From there on, the river is navigable only by small craft. All navigation ends abruptly at Marcilly-sur-Seine, where the ancient Canal de la Haute-Seine used to allow vessels to continue all the way to Troyes. This canal has been abandoned for many years.
The average depth of the Seine today at Paris is about nine and a half metres. Until locks were installed to raise the level in the 1800s, the river was much shallower within the city most of the time, and consisted of a small channel of continuous flow bordered by sandy banks.

Rev: "You can see it from different bridges across the city , walk alongside it and have a river cruise. We had viewed the river when walking alongside throughout the time we were in Paris and decided to inquire about a cruise. We walked upto pier 3 without reservations to book an hour cruise. There was no fuss as the ticket operators were very friendly and were able to fit us on a cruise later that evening which cost 10 euros. Whilst on the cruise you could listen to the guide telling you about the history of Paris and the river as well as pointing out the landmarks you were passing or you can walk about the boat taking photos of the city. The cruise was scheduled only to be for an hour however it lasted 1 hour 45 minutes which was fantastic. Its a definite must do when in Paris its in-expensive, a lot of fun and a great way to see all the landmarks in the city."
Today the depth is tightly controlled and the entire width of the river between the built-up banks on either side is normally filled with water. The average flow of the river is very low, only a few cubic metres per second, but much higher flows are possible during periods of heavy runoff. Special reservoirs upstream help to maintain a constant level for the river through the city, but during periods of extreme runoff significant increases in river level may occur. A very severe period of high water in January 1910 produced extensive flooding throughout the city.

Rev: "The Seine is one thing London doesn't have. You disagree? Okay, how many times on a given London day do you cross the Thames? Right. It is not a good day in Paris unless you (re)cross the Seine at least once. It is the Aorta of Paris, changeable with the time of day and season of the year. You cross it like a grand boulevard, over different bridges with into different epochs of the city's history,skirting islands, ogling the Eiffel Tower, etc etc. That said, I love the Thames, too….I just don't get to/need to use it as much."
The Seine again rose to threatening levels in 2013, 1000, 976 BC and 1389. After a first-level flood alert in 2003, about 100,000 works of art were moved out of Paris, the largest relocation of art since World War II. Much of the art in Paris is kept in underground storage rooms that would be flooded. A 2002 report by the French government stated the worst-case Seine flood scenario would cost 10 billion euros and cut telephone service for a million Parisians, leaving 200,000 without electricity and 100,000 without gas.

Rev: "As an alternative to the crowded metro and buses, the Batobus proved to be a very safe, enjoyable and inexpensive way to travel to and from the main attractions that are within walking distance of the Seine, on either bank. The locations of the 8 stops afford convenient access to all of the main attractions. We purchased the 5-day pass and took advantage of the opportunity for unlimited boarding and disembarking use that is a feature of that option. The vessels themselves are pleasant and provide great views of what's on the river, the beautiful bridges and the riverside structures. I only wish it didn't stop running so early in the evening."
The basin area is 78,910 square kilometres, 2% of which is forest and 78% cultivated land. In addition to Paris, two other cities with a population over 100,000 are in the Seine watershed Le Havre at the estuary, Rouen in the Seine valley and Rheims at the northern limit with an annual urban growth rate of 0.2%. The population density is 201 per square kilometre.

Rev: "We booked the cheap and cheerful 10 Euro /1 hour boat tour by French company CEETIZ. The tour can be booked on line - no drama`s Show up at pier 3 - just below the Eiffel Tower any time between the morning and 21.30hrs (winter schedule) and the boat casts off approx. every hour. It heads off towards Notre Dame and returns to pier 3 in about 65 /70 minutes. There is a commentary provided at each seat - also there is a customer service rep who also adds colour commentary along the way. there`s no refreshments etc on board but None are advertised or expected. Its a nice trip and you can go outside onto the deck an take pictures as conditions allow........It`s a `no brainer` 10 Euro`s each for that experience - get it booked!"
Periodically the sewerage systems of Paris experience a failure known as sanitary sewer overflow, often in periods of high rainfall. Under these conditions untreated sewage has been discharged into the Seine. The resulting oxygen deficit is principally caused by allochthonous bacteria larger than one micrometre in size. The specific activity of these sewage bacteria is typically three to four times greater than that of the autochthonous (background) bacterial population. Heavy metal concentrations in the Seine are relatively high.

Rev: "My husband and I walked along the banks of the Seine on a number of occasions to explore the city and when we were on our way to specific attractions. This really is an iconic part of Paris and whether you walk the banks or take a cruise there is lots to see of this beautiful city by sticking to this river. If walking, the paths along its banks are excellent and very easy access. Highly recommended."
The pH level of the Seine at Pont Neuf has been measured to be 8.46. Despite this, the water quality has still improved, with several historians having called it at various times in the past as an "open sewer". In 2009, it was announced that Atlantic salmon had returned to the Seine.

Rev: "You can't avoid the Seine in Paris, and that is a wonderful thing. It's woven into the city's culture, history, and daily life (at least for tourists). But there s one experience I cannot recommend highly enough: cruising the river at sunset or at night. There are several ways to do this, and they aren't that expensive, nor do they need to be. I have been fortunate in being able to travel a fair amount and enjoy fine experiences. But nothing compares to the joy of seeing the city glide by while the lights sparkle on the water while you are with the one you love. My wife and I have tradition of doing this on our final night in Paris. It is our way of saying farewell to our favorite city and pledging our return. It is a wonderful way to wrap up a visit."
After the burning at the stake of Joan of Arc in 1431, her ashes were thrown into the Seine from the medieval stone Mathilde Bridge at Rouen, though unserious counter claims persist. According to his will, Napoleon, who died in 1821, wished to be buried on the banks of the Seine. His request was not granted. At the 1900 Summer Olympics, it hosted the rowing, swimming, and water polo events. Twenty-four years later, the river hosted the rowing events again at Bassin d'Argenteuil, along the Seine north of Paris.

Until the 1930s, a towing system using a chain on the bed of the river existed to facilitate movement of barges upriver. World Canals by Charles Hadfield, David and Charles 1986. The Seine River was one of the original objectives of Operation Overlord in 1944. The Allies' intention was to reach the Seine by 90 days after D-Day. That objective was met. An anticipated assault crossing of the river never materialized as German resistance in France crumbled by early September 1944. However, the First Canadian Army did encounter resistance immediately west of the Seine and fighting occurred in the Forêt de la Londe as Allied troops attempted to cut off the escape across the river of parts of the German 7th Army in the closing phases of the Battle of Normandy.

Some of the victims of the Paris massacre of 1961 drowned in the Seine after being thrown from the Pont Saint-Michel and other locations in Paris. Dredging in the 1960s mostly eliminated tidal bores on the river, known in French as “le mascaret.” In 1991 UNESCO added the banks of the Seine in Paris the Rive Gauche and Rive Droite to its list of World Heritage Sites in Europe. Since 2002 Paris-Plages has been held every summer on the Paris banks of the Seine: a transformation of the paved banks into a beach with sand and facilities for sunbathing and entertainment.

The river was a popular site for suicides and the disposal of bodies of murder victims. In 2007, 55 bodies were retrieved from its waters; in February 2008, the body of supermodel-turned-activist Katoucha Niane was found there. In the late 1700s and early 1800s over the space of six years 306 bodies were retrieved, the highest number in one day being 16. They were kept in the morgue for many years, and some were never identified.





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