The Seine River

Sail the Seine River from Paris to Normandy and Les Andelys

About The Seine River

The name “Seine” comes from the Latin Sequana, the Gallo-Roman goddess of the river.
Rising in the commune of Source-Seine, about 19 miles northwest of Dijon in northeastern France, the Seine flows northwesterly through Paris and into the English Channel, between Le Havre and Honfleur. While it is only the third longest river in France at 482 miles long, the Seine has been the hub of Paris, and all of France, since the Middle Ages.
A popular trading route since the Iron Age, the Seine boasts numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites along its banks, including Le Havre, the Left Bank and Right Bank of Paris, the Palace and Park of Versailles, Chartres Cathedral, the Palace of Fountainebleau, and Provins. Overflowing with glorious art, architecture, cultural institutions, world-class cuisine, wine, and spirits, a cruise along the Seine is guaranteed to fill you with joie de vivre!
Not surprisingly, all the major river cruise lines offer journeys on the Seine, including AmaWaterways, Scenic Tours, Tauck, Amadeus Cruises, CroisiEurope, Uniworld, Avalon Waterways, and Viking River Cruises. With so many attractions in the region, each offers travelers the chance to seek out personal must-sees, whether it’s the beaches of Normandy or the gardens of Giverny.

Seine River Stats

Length: 483 miles
Depth: From a shallow canal to over 30 feet near Paris
Source: Marcilly-sur-Seine, France
Mouth: English Channel near Honfleur, France
Locks: 34
Countries: France

Learn More About the Seine River of Europe

The Seine River, or “La Seine” as it is known in French, is a majestic waterway that weaves its way through the heart of France, serving as a lifeline for the city of Paris and playing a pivotal role in the nation’s history, culture, and economy. Stretching over 770 kilometers (480 miles) from its source in the Burgundy region to its mouth at the English Channel, the Seine has been a source of inspiration for artists, writers, and musicians, a transportation route for commerce, and a symbol of French identity for centuries.


Geography and Source

The Seine River originates in the Côte d’Or department in eastern France, near the village of Source-Seine. This unassuming spring, known as the “Seine’s Source,” marks the beginning of a journey that will take the river through some of the most iconic landscapes and cities in France. From its modest beginnings, the Seine flows northwestward, gradually gaining size and power as it collects water from numerous tributaries along its path.


A River of History

The history of the Seine River is closely intertwined with the history of France itself. Settlements along the Seine date back to prehistoric times, and the river has witnessed the rise and fall of Celtic tribes, Roman conquests, and the birth of the Frankish kingdom. During the medieval period, the Seine became a vital trade route, enabling the movement of goods, people, and ideas.  One of the most iconic features of the Seine’s history is its association with the city of Paris. Paris, often referred to as the “City of Light,” is situated on the banks of the Seine and owes much of its development and character to the river. The city’s founding can be traced back to a Celtic settlement called Lutetia, which was established on the Île de la Cité, an island in the Seine. Over the centuries, Paris expanded to encompass both banks of the river, with numerous bridges connecting its neighborhoods.


Art and Literature

The Seine River has inspired countless artists, writers, and musicians. Its tranquil waters, picturesque bridges, and iconic landmarks have been immortalized in paintings by renowned artists like Claude Monet and Georges Seurat. Monet’s series of paintings of the Seine, including “Impression, Sunrise,” played a pivotal role in the development of the Impressionist movement.  In literature, the Seine has been a recurring motif in the works of famous authors such as Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, and Ernest Hemingway. Hugo’s “Les Misérables” vividly describes the river’s role in the lives of the novel’s characters, while Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” features the Seine as a symbol of memory and reflection.


Commerce and Transportation

The Seine River has long served as a vital transportation route for goods and people. Historically, it facilitated the movement of goods between regions of France and beyond. The river’s navigable waters allowed for the transportation of timber, wine, grain, and other essential commodities. It also played a key role in the development of trade and industry in Paris, as it provided access to the sea and enabled the city to become a major commercial hub.  Today, the Seine continues to be an important transportation artery, with cargo ships and barges navigating its waters. Additionally, the riverbanks have been transformed into scenic promenades and recreational areas for both Parisians and tourists. The “Bateaux-Mouches,” a fleet of tourist boats, offer visitors a unique perspective of the city’s landmarks from the water.


Iconic Landmarks

The Seine River is adorned with a wealth of iconic landmarks that enhance its allure. Some of the most famous include:


– Eiffel Tower: Located on the Champ de Mars near the Seine’s Left Bank, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized symbols of Paris and France. It offers breathtaking views of the city and the Seine below.
– Notre-Dame Cathedral: Situated on the Île de la Cité, Notre-Dame is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its flying buttresses and stunning rose windows make it a must-visit destination for tourists and a significant religious site.
– Louvre Museum: This world-renowned museum, housed in a former royal palace, sits along the Right Bank of the Seine. It is home to thousands of works of art, including the Mona Lisa.
– Musée d’Orsay: Housed in a Beaux-Arts railway station on the Left Bank, this museum specializes in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces.
– Pont Neuf: Despite its name, which means “New Bridge,” Pont Neuf is the oldest surviving bridge across the Seine in Paris. It connects the Île de la Cité with both banks of the river.
– Luxembourg Gardens: These stunning gardens, on the Left Bank, are a serene oasis in the heart of Paris. They feature fountains, statues, and tree-lined promenades along the Seine.
– Palais de Chaillot: Located on the Right Bank, this palace offers panoramic views of the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadéro Gardens.
– Islands of the Seine: The river is dotted with islands, including the Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis. These islands offer a sense of calm and history amid the bustling city.


Environmental Concerns and Preservation

While the Seine has played a crucial role in shaping France’s history and culture, it faces modern challenges. Pollution, flooding, and environmental degradation are issues that require ongoing attention. Efforts have been made to improve water quality and mitigate flood risks, including the construction of flood defenses and wastewater treatment facilities.  In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of preserving the Seine’s natural beauty and ecological balance. Initiatives to promote sustainability and biodiversity along the river are gaining momentum.


The Seine River is more than just a waterway; it is a symbol of France’s rich history, culture, and identity. Its meandering course through Paris and the surrounding countryside has inspired artists and writers for centuries and continues to captivate visitors from around the world. Whether you stroll along its banks, cruise its waters, or simply admire it from a distance, the Seine River remains an enduring emblem of France’s enduring charm and allure.

Your Seine River Cruise Awaits!

Are you ready to start planning your Seine River Cruise Vacation Your Way? A River Cruise Artist at River Cruise Your Way is ready to be your vacation concierge. Contact us today at 1-800-259-7612 or use the form below and let us know when it is most convenient to call you, we will confirm via e-mail, and then reach out at the agreed upon time and date.