Paris, the city and capital of France, is situated in the north-central part of the country. People were living on the site of the present-day city, located along the Seine River some 233 miles (375 km) upstream from the river’s mouth on the English Channel (La Manche), by about 7600 BCE. The modern city has spread from the island (the Île de la Cité) and far beyond both banks of the Seine.
The name “Seine” comes from the Latin Sequana, the Gallo-Roman goddess of the river. The Seine River is the second-longest river flowing completely in France. The Seine is a 777 kilometres (483 miles) long river and is an important commercial waterway. The source of River Seine is a village named Source-Seine , 30 kilometres (19 miles) northwest of Dijon in northeastern France.
Thirty-seven bridges cross the Seine river within the city boundaries. Some are just for pedestrians or trains, most carry motor-traffic and two bridges carry all three. Bridges have spanned the Seine since well before 100 BCE. Three existing bridges were erected in the 1600s and the newest was opened just ten years ago.
The Pont des Arts - was considered the most romantic bridge in Paris. Linking the right bank, near the Louvre, and the left bank a few meters away from the Pont Neuf. Lovers used to have a tradition: you had to lock a padlock with your name and your lover’s name on it on the bridge to make your love last forever. As of 2015, there were over a million locks weighing 45 tons. The chain-link style parapet walls have since been removed along with all the locks. People are still finding ways to leave their locks behind.
Another well-recognized bridge is the Pont Alexandre III bridge which connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower. It is widely popular as a backdrop for weddings and proposals photos with its intricate and extravagant ornaments and four-17 metre tall towers with gilt bronze sculptures of winged horses. Take a stroll day or night, and have a spectacular view of the Grand Palais, and Petit Palais as well as the stunning Eiffel Tower.
Paris and its infamous river have long been the treasured subject of many a painter. Not much has changed, though, as artists still set up their easels on the Seine’s banks. The river has been the subject of many famous impressionist paintings, including Monet’s Bathers at La Grenouillere and Renoir’s Seine River at Asnieres. Impressionist painter Auguste Renoir and Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste are to name a few. All artists, old and new, impressionist and realist are interested in the different nuances of light that Paris offers. If you want a memorable souvenir, I recommend coming here to have your portrait done by an artist.
Dams and locks normally keep the water level consistent, particularly in the Paris region, where the Seine’s traffic is especially heavy, in part because of tourist and other recreational vessels. The Seine is known for its romantic sightseeing boats, called “bateaux mouches,” that drift up and down the river in Paris. I have been lucky enough to travel on one of these tourist boats along the Siene - nothing like seeing Notre Dame Cathedral right from the river, and going under some of these amazing bridges.
The City of Lights has so much to offer, and the Siene River is just but a small part of it all. Whether you stay in the city for a week, or make it a quick stop for as a pre- or post- cruise stay, make sure you take in the beauty of the Siene river. And when you are ready to start planning, I'll guide you along to make sure you see some of these beautiful bridges.