Seine ( ) is a slow-flowing major river and commercial waterway within the regions of Île-de-France and Haute-Normandie in France and famous
as a romantic backdrop in photographs of Paris, France. It is also a tourist attraction, with
boats offering sightseeing tours of the Rive Droite and Rive Gauche within the city of Paris.
terminates in the Bay of the Seine
region of the English Channel and is navigable by ocean-going
vessels for about ten percent of its length, as far as Rouen, 120 km
(75 miles) from the sea, while over sixty percent of its length, as
far as Burgundy near the Swiss
Alps, is negotiable by commercial riverboats and nearly its whole
length is available for recreational boating.
The Seine, which rises near Dijon in
northern France, flows through Paris and into the English
There are 37 bridges over the River
and dozens more spanning the river outside of the city.
in Paris include the Pont Louis-Philippe and Pont
Neuf, the later which dates back to 1607.
the city, examples include the Pont de Normandie, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world, which
Havre to Honfleur.
Origin of the name
The name "Seine" comes from the Latin
, a Latinisation of the
, which is argued to
mean "sacred river". Some have argued that Sicauna
cognate to the name of Saône River
though an argued relationship to the River
in Ireland is unlikely, given the very different forms
of the two; Gaelic an tSiona
, dative Sionainn
rather from Prehistoric Irish *Sinona. Another proposal has
it that Sequana is the Latin version of Gaulish
Issicauna Lower-Icauna, which would be the
diminutive of Icauna, which was the Gaulish name of the
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 (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 (Seine).
Further downstream in what is now Normandy
the Seine, the second longest river in France, was known as
, or Roto
, which is a traditional Celtic name
for rivers, and is also the stem of the Rhône River
(see Rhône article for further
explanations). This is proved by the name of Rouen, which was
Rotomagos in Gaulish, meaning "Roto-field/plain"
(magos in Gaulish), whose meaning
evolved into "market of the Roto".
is dredged and oceangoing vessels can dock at Rouen, 120 km
(75 miles) from the sea. Commercial riverboats
can use the river from Bar-sur-Seine, 560 km (350 miles) to its mouth.
At Paris, there are 37 bridges.The river is only 24 metres
(80 feet) above sea level, 446 km (277 miles) from
its mouth, making it slow flowing and thus easily navigable.
776 km (486 miles) long and flows into the Atlantic
Ocean from the continent.
section of the river, from Le Havre to well beyond Rouen, is followed by a canalized
section with four large multiple locks until the mouth of the
Oise river at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.
more 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 more locks
ensure navigation to Saint Mammès
(where the Loing mouth is
situated). Through an eighth lock the river Yonne is reached
mouth of the Yonne, larger ships can continue upstream the Seine
From there on, the river is only navigable
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.
canal has been abandoned for many years now.
The average depth of the Seine today at Paris is about eight
metres. Until locks were installed to artificially raise the level
in the 1800s, however, the river was much shallower within the city
most of the time, and consisted only of a small channel of
continuous flow bordered by sandy banks (depicted in many
illustrations of the period). Today 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 or may not occur.
A very severe period of high water in January 1910 produced
extensive flooding throughout
. The Seine again rose to threatening levels in 1924,
1955, 1982 and 1999-2000. 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
, cut telephone service for a million Parisians,
leaving 200,000 without electricity and 100,000 without gas.
The basin area is 78,910 square kilometres, 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
Havre, Rouen, and
urban growth rate of 0.2 percent.
The population density is
201 per square kilometre.
Periodically the sewerage systems of Paris experience a failure
known as sanitary sewer
, often in periods of high rainfall
. Under these conditions untreated sewage
has been discharged into the Seine. The
deficit is principally
caused by allochthonous bacteria
larger than one micrometer in size. The
specific activity of these sewage bacteria is typically three to
four times greater than that of the autochthonous (background)
. The pH level of the
Seine at Pont
Neuf has been measured to be 8.46.
In 2009, it was announced that Atlantic
had returned to the Seine
The Seine and Eiffel Tower
The Seine near the Invalides
A walkway along the Right Bank near
Legend has it that after Jeanne Darc (better known as "Joan of Arc
") was burned at the stake
in 1431, her ashes
were thrown into the Seine, though counter-claims persist into the
According to his will, Napoleon
, who died
in 1821, wished to be buried on the banks of the Seine, a request
that was not granted.
In January 1910, the Seine flooded 20 feet above normal, drowning
streets throughout the city of Paris and sending thousands of
Parisians fleeing to emergency shelters. The 1910 Great Flood of Paris
worst the city had seen since 1658 when the water reached only a
few centimetres higher.
Until the 1930s, a towing system using a chain on the bed of the
river existed to facilitate movement of barges upriver.
The Seine River was one of the original objectives of Operation Overlord
in 1944. The Allies'
intention was to reach the Seine by D+90 (ie 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.
First Canadian Army
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
the victims of the Paris massacre
of 1961 drowned in the Seine after being thrown off from the
Saint-Michel and other locations in Paris.
in the 1960s mostly eliminated
on the river, known as
the banks of the Seine in Paris—the Rive
Gauche and Rive
Droite—were added to UNESCO's list of
World Heritage Sites in Europe.
The river is 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
was found there.
During the 19th and the 20th centuries, the Seine has inspired many
In arts and popular culture
- In Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables, Jean Valjean
escapes from the sewers on the banks of the Seine. Waiting there is
Inspector Javert, who regretfully allows him to escape. Javert,
contemplating what he had just done, decides to throw himself to
his death in the river.
- According to legend, the death mask
of a young woman's body
pulled from the Seine has inspired several 20th century artists,
including Vladimir Nabokov and
Rainer Maria Rilke.
- David Lanz wrote a piano solo piece
entitled Leaves on the Seine in his album,
- Down In The Seine is
a song from The Style Council's
album Our Favourite
- This river appears in Call of Duty
3 as a multiplayer map, named Seine river.
- The Decemberists have a song on
their "Castaways and
Cutouts" album titled, "The Legionnaire's
Lament", which entails a legionnaire longing to return to
France and the "sweetly sleeping sweeping of the Seine".
- of Montreal have a song called
"Sink the Seine".
- in Down and Out in
Paris and London, novellist George Orwell in his
semi-autobiography was down on his luck with no money to buy food
and becomes desperately hungry. He and his Boris tried to fish dace
in river Seine but was unsuccessful. He commented many years later
that the fish became very cunning after the Siege of Paris, which why it was futile
exercise to try to catch them.
- ABBA has a song, Our Last Summer with the lyrics saying
'walks along the Seine, laughing in the rain'
is a joke which centers on the Seine, which
goes, "If you jump off a Paris bridge, you're in
Seine!" with the word insane replaced with in-Seine.
The distinctive face of Resusci Anne was based on L'Inconnue de la
Seine, the death mask of an unidentified young woman reputedly
drowned in the Seine River around the late 1880s.