The River Seine is 777 km in length and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. The Seine rises in the commune of Source-Seine, about 30 kilometres northwest of Dijon and flows northwesterly – curving through Paris – to the Normandy coast where it flows into the English Channel. Yet when thinking of the Seine it evokes romantic images of Paris and strolling along the banks of the river seine, and it is for this that it is best known. The river has inspired many great artists over the years including Henri Matisse and Claude Monet. Looking down river, the bank to your right is known as the Right Bank and the bank to your left is known as the Left Bank. The Left Bank and Right Bank of the Seine are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There are 37 bridges within Paris, including the Pont de l’Alma near the Eiffel Tower, the Pont des Arts, and the Pont Neuf. and dozens more spanning the river outside the city. Examples in Paris include the Pont Alexandre III 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.
The Seine can artificially be divided into five parts:
- the Petite Seine “Small Seine” from the sources to Montereau-Fault-Yonne
- the Haute Seine “Upper Seine” from Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Paris
- the Traversée de Paris “the Paris waterway”
- the Basse Seine “Lower Seine” from Paris to Rouen
- the Seine maritime “Maritime Seine” from Rouen to the English channel.
A stay in Paris simply would not be complete without a boat cruise along the Seine or the canals, offering many unforgettable views of the city.
On a cruise, the splendours of Paris unfold on either side of the city’s most beautiful avenue – the Seine. As you glide along the water at a leisurely pace, you pass by the most magnificent museums and monuments. Some companies offer special entertainment for children to make the voyage even more magical: a Croisière Enchantée (enchanted cruise) with a musical show, or a Petits Matelots (Little Sailors) cruise based on the character of Barthélemy the pirate. Also worth discovering: the cruises along the Canal Saint-Martin, with its picturesque locks. Contraste organizes several activities on the water, including group rides in inflatable boats and nautical rallies between the Port de Paris Arsenal and the Bassin de la Villette. Venice is not the only city to have legendary craft plying the water. The gleaming mahogany and flamboyant copper Rivas of Paris Boat Prestige brave the criss-crossing of lines of barges for a fantastic ride. The river, which runs through the middle of the city, can also be explored on foot, via its many bridges and via the new Berges de Seine. This promenade has become a popular place to stroll all year round. On Sundays, the quayside stretch is also immensely popular for walking, kick scootering and cycling. Information on these outings along the Seine, and also to woods, parks and gardens can be found at the Comité départementale de la randonnée pédestre de Paris, which offers 88 way-marked routes. Seasoned walkers can trek across Paris from north to south or east to west on way-marked paths.
– Did you know? For some water sports fun just a metro ride away, head to the Club Nautique in the 19th arrondissement, at 28 Avenue Simon Bolivar, where you can enjoy water skiing, wake skating, wake skiing and even air chair riding on the Seine in Paris.
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