The Seine in Paris
Topographic map of the Seine basin
|0 m (0 ft)|
|Length||777 km (483 mi)|
|Basin size||79,000 km2 (31,000 sq mi)|
|⁃ location||Le Havre|
|⁃ average||560 m3/s (20,000 cu ft/s)|
|⁃ left||Yonne, Loing, Eure, Risle|
|⁃ right||Ource, Aube, Marne, Oise, Epte|
The Seine ( // SAYN, // SEN; French: [sɛn] (
There are 37 bridges within Paris 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 rises in the commune of Source-Seine, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Dijon. The source has been owned by the city of Paris since 1864. A number of closely associated small ditches or depressions provide the source waters, with an artificial grotto laid out to highlight and contain a deemed main source. The grotto includes a statue of a nymph, a dog, and a dragon. On the same site are the buried remains of a Gallo-Roman temple. Small statues of the dea Sequana "Seine goddess" and other ex-votos found at the same place are now exhibited in the Dijon archaeological museum.
The Seine can artificially be divided into five parts:
The Seine is dredged and ocean-going vessels can dock at Rouen, 120 kilometres (75 mi) from the sea. Commercial craft (barges and push-tows) can use the river from Marcilly-sur-Seine, 516 kilometres (321 mi) to its mouth.
At Paris, there are 37 bridges. The river is only 24 metres (79 ft) above sea level 446 kilometres (277 mi) from its mouth, making it slow flowing and thus easily navigable.
The Seine Maritime, 123 kilometres (76 mi) 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 (Basse Seine) with four large multiple locks until the mouth of the Oise at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (170 km [110 mi]). Smaller locks at Bougival and at Suresnes lift the vessels to the level of the river in Paris, where the junction with the Canal Saint-Martin is located. The distance from the mouth of the Oise is 72 km (45 mi).
The Haute Seine, from Paris to Montereau-Fault-Yonne, is 98 km (61 mi) long and has 8 locks. At Charenton-le-Pont is the mouth of the Marne. 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 (48 km [30 mi], 7 locks). From there on, the river is navigable only by small craft to Marcilly-sur-Seine (19 km [12 mi], 4 locks). At Marcilly-sur-Seine the ancient Canal de la Haute-Seine used to allow vessels to continue all the way to Troyes. This canal has been abandoned since 1957.
The average depth of the Seine today at Paris is about 9.5 metres (31 ft). 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 (depicted in many illustrations of the period). 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.
Four large storage reservoirs have been built since 1950 on the Seine as well as its tributaries Yonne, Marne, and Aube. These help in maintaining a constant level for the river through the city, but cannot prevent significant increases in river level during periods of extreme runoff. The dams are Lac d’Orient, Lac des Settons, Lake Der-Chantecoq, and Auzon-Temple and Amance, respectively.
A very severe period of high water in January 1910 resulted in extensive flooding throughout the city. The Seine again rose to threatening levels in 1924, 1955, 1982, 1999–2000, June 2016, and January 2018. billion euros and cut telephone service for a million Parisians, leaving 200,000 without electricity and 100,000 without gas.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 have been flooded. A 2002 report by the French government stated the worst-case Seine flood scenario would cost 10
In January 2018 the Seine again flooded, reaching a flood level of 5.84 metres (19 ft 2 in) on 29 January. An official warning was issued on 24 January that heavy rainfall was likely to cause the river to flood. By 27 January, the river was rising. The Deputy Mayor of Paris, Colombe Brossel, warned that the heavy rain was caused by climate change, and that "We have to understand that climatic change is not a word, it's a reality."
The basin area, including a part of Belgium, is 78,910 square kilometres (30,470 sq mi), 2 percent of which is forest and 78 percent cultivated land. In addition to Paris, three other cities with a population over 100,000 are in the Seine watershed: Le Havre at the estuary, Rouen in the Seine valley and Reims at the northern limit—with an annual urban growth rate of 0.2 percent. The population density is 201 per square kilometer.
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 is 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. The pH level of the Seine at Pont Neuf has been measured to be 8.46. Despite this, the water quality has improved significantly over what several historians at various times in the past called an "open sewer".
In 2009, it was announced that Atlantic salmon had returned to the Seine.
The name Seine comes from the Latin Sēquana , sometimes associated with the Gallo-Roman goddess of the river. The word seems to derive from the same root as Latin sequor (I follow) and English sequence, namely Proto-Indo-European *seikw-, signifying 'to flow' or 'to pour forth'.
On 28 or 29 March, 845, an army of Vikings led by a chieftain named Reginherus, which is possibly another name for Ragnar Lothbrok, sailed up the River Seine with siege towers and sacked Paris.
On 25 November, 885, another Viking expedition led by Rollo was sent up the River Seine to attack Paris again.
In March, 1314, King Philip IV of France had Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, burned on a scaffold on an island in the River Seine in front of Notre Dame de Paris.
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, the river hosted the rowing, swimming, and water polo events.Twenty-four years later, it 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.[ citation needed ] Listed in World Canals by Charles Hadfield, David and Charles 1986.
The Seine 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 Algerian victims of the Paris massacre of 1961 drowned in the Seine after being thrown by French policemen from the Pont Saint-Michel and other locations in Paris.
Dredging in the 1960s mostly eliminated tidal bores on the lower 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.
In 2007, 55 bodies were retrieved from its waters; in February 2008, the body of supermodel-turned-activist Katoucha Niane was found there.
The Seine was the river that Javert, the primary antagonist of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel Les Misérables , drowned himself in.
In Ludwig Bemelmans' 1953 children's book "Madeline's Rescue" and the 1998 live-action adaptation of Madeline, Madeline accidentally falls into the Seine after standing on the ledge of a bridge. The notable difference between the two is that in the book, Madeline fell over after playing on the ledge, whereas in the film, she fell over trying to justify her actions towards Pepito that got all the girls in trouble.
In the 2016 film La La Land , Mia, the female protagonist, sang about her aunt who jumped into The Seine without looking and how it is similar to all the dreamers in the world who keeps on dreaming, in her final audition “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”. The song was nominated for Best Original Song in the 89th Academy Awards.
During the 19th and the 20th centuries in particular the Seine inspired many artists, including:
A song 'La Seine' by Flavien Monod and Guy Lafarge was written in 1948.
Josephine Baker recorded a song 'La Seine'
A song 'La seine' by Vanessa Paradis feat. Matthieu Chedid was originally written as a soundtrack for the movie 'A Monster in Paris'
The Garonne, a river in southwest France and northern Spain, has a length of 602 kilometres (374 mi). It flows from the central Spanish Pyrenees to the Gironde estuary at the French port of Bordeaux.
The Scheldt is a 350-kilometre (220 mi) long river in northern France, western Belgium, and the southwestern part of the Netherlands. Its name is derived from an adjective corresponding to Old English sceald ("shallow"), Modern English shoal, Low German schol, West Frisian skol, and Swedish (obsolete) skäll ("thin").
The Cher is a river in central France, a left tributary of the Loire. It is 367.8 km (228.5 mi) long and its basin area is 13,718 km2 (5,297 sq mi). Its source is in the Creuse department, north-east of Crocq. It joins the river Loire at Villandry, west of Tours.
The Rhône is one of the major rivers of Europe and has twice the average discharge of the Loire, rising in the Rhône Glacier in the Swiss Alps at the far eastern end of the Swiss canton of Valais, passing through Lake Geneva and running through southeastern France. At Arles, near its mouth on the Mediterranean Sea, the river divides into two branches, known as the Great Rhône and the Little Rhône. The resulting delta constitutes the Camargue region.
The Saône is a river of eastern France. It is a right tributary of the Rhône, rising at Vioménil in the Vosges department and joining the Rhône in Lyon, just south of the Presqu'île.
The Scarpe is a river in the Hauts-de-France region of France. It is a left-bank tributary of the river Escaut (Scheldt). It is approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) long. The source of the river is at Berles-Monchel near Aubigny-en-Artois. It flows through the towns of Arras, Douai and Saint-Amand-les-Eaux. The river ends at Mortagne-du-Nord where it flows into the Scheldt. Scarpe Mountain in Alberta, Canada, was named after the river. The navigable waterway and its coal barges also feature in the novels by 19th century author Émile Zola.
The Marne is a river in France, an eastern tributary of the Seine in the area east and southeast of Paris. It is 514 kilometres (319 mi) long. The river gave its name to the departments of Haute-Marne, Marne, Seine-et-Marne, and Val-de-Marne.
The Canal Saint-Martin is a 4.6 km long canal in Paris, connecting the Canal de l'Ourcq to the river Seine. Over nearly half its length, between the Rue du Faubourg du Temple and the Place de la Bastille, it was covered, in the mid-19th century, to create wide boulevards and public spaces on the surface. The canal is drained and cleaned every 10–15 years, and it is always a source of fascination for Parisians to discover curiosities and even some treasures among the hundreds of tonnes of discarded objects.
The Burgundy Canal is a canal in Burgundy, in east-central France. It connects the Yonne at Migennes with the Saône at Saint-Jean-de-Losne. Construction began in 1775 and was completed in 1832. The canal completes the link between the English Channel and the Mediterranean Sea, via the rivers Seine and the Yonne to the Saône and Rhône.
Montereau-Fault-Yonne, or simply Montereau, is a commune in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France region, which in turn is in north-central France.
The Tarn is a 381-kilometre (237 mi) long river in the administrative region of Occitanie in southern France. It is a right tributary of the Garonne.
The Yonne is a river in France, a left-bank tributary of the Seine. It is 292 kilometres (181 mi) long. The river gives its name to the Yonne département. It rises in the Nièvre département, in the Morvan hills near Château-Chinon. It flows into the river Seine at Montereau-Fault-Yonne.
The Canal de Berry is a disused canal in France which links the Canal latéral à la Loire at Marseilles-lès-Aubigny with the Cher at Noyers rejoining the Loire near Tours. With a branch from Montluçon it provided 261 kilometres (162 mi) of canal with locks 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) wide from 1840 until its closure in 1955. There is now a 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) operational segment with five locks between Selles-sur-Cher and Noyers-sur-Cher.
The Canal du Nivernais links the Loire with the Seine, following approximately the course of the river Yonne in a south to north direction. It first climbs northeast and north to cross the Morvan watershed, then roughly follows the course of the Yonne. Beginning on the Loire in the village of Saint-Léger-des-Vignes, it reaches its half-way point at the town of Clamecy and finishes at Auxerre on the Yonne.
The Canal Saint-Denis is a canal in Paris that is 6.6 kilometres (4.1 mi) in length. The canal connects the Canal de l'Ourcq, at a point north-northwest of the Bassin de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement, with the suburban municipalities of Saint-Denis and Aubervilliers in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. There are seven locks along the canal's route, and, near Saint-Denis, the canal discharges into the Seine.
The Canal de la Haute-Saône, also canal de Montbéliard à la Haute-Saône, is a canal in eastern France. Although it was designed to connect the upper course of the river Saône with the Canal du Rhône au Rhin along Lure and Ronchamp, only the short section between Allenjoie and Botans has been opened in 1923. In the section between Ronchamp and Botans, several locks and tunnels have been built, but it was never used. The section Allenjoie-Botans is 10 km long with five locks. It was closed in 2013.
The Seine River was the scene of many early experiments with steam navigation. The steamship has a long ancestry, dating back at least to 1783 when the Marquis de Jouffray d'Abbans steamed his little boat, the Pyroscaphe, across the Seine. Robert Fulton even exhibited one to Napoleon's regime. With the success of the steam engine by the 1820s, the Second Republic embarked on a series of navigation improvements to raise weirs and locks with which to deepen the navigation channel. By the 1860s improvements had changed the riverbed from low-lying sand banks and trickle to a series of cascading ponds with a depth of 6 and a half feet.
The Paris–Le Havre railway is an important 228-kilometre long railway line, that connects Paris to the northwestern port city Le Havre via Rouen. Among the first railway lines in France, the section from Paris to Rouen opened on 9 May 1843, followed by the section from Rouen to Le Havre that opened on 22 March 1847.
The railway from Paris to Marseille is an 862-kilometre long railway line, that connects Paris to the southern port city of Marseille, France via Dijon and Lyon. The railway was opened in several stages between 1847 and 1856, when the final section through Lyon was opened. The opening of the LGV Sud-Est high speed line from Paris to Lyon in 1981, the LGV Rhône-Alpes in 1992 and the LGV Méditerranée in 2001 has decreased its importance for passenger traffic.