Infobox_River | river_name = Seine

caption = The Seine as seen from the Pont Royal. The Musée d'Orsay is visible in the left foreground and the Grand Palais is in the right background.
origin = Burgundy
mouth = The English Channel
(Bay of the Seine at Le Havre) coord|49|26|5|N|0|7|3|E|name=English Channel-Seine|display=inline,title
basin_countries = France
length = 776 km (482 mi)
elevation = 471 m (1,545 ft)
discharge = 500 m³/s (17,660 ft³/s)
watershed = 78,650 km² (30,367 mi²)

The Seine (pronounced|sɛn in French) 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 excursion boats offering sightseeing tours of the "Rive Droite" and "Rive Gauche" within the city of Paris. It terminates in the Bay of the Seine region of the English Channel and is navigable by oceanic transports about ten percent of its length to Rouen, 120 km (75 miles) from the sea, whereas over sixty percent of its length from Burgundy near the Swiss Alps is negotiable by commercial riverboats and nearly it's whole length is available for recreational boating.

There are over three dozen bridges over the River Seine just within Paris and dozens more spanning the river outside of the city. Examples in Paris include the Pont Louis-Philippe and Pont Neuf, the latter which dates back to 1607. Outside of the city, examples include the Pont de Normandie, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world, which links Le Havre to Honfleur.

Origin of the name

The name "Seine" comes from the Latin "Sequana". This is turn has been said to come from Gaulish (Celtic) "Sicauna", which is argued to mean "sacred river". Some have argued that "Sicauna" is cognate to the names of Saône River and the River Shannon. Another proposal has it that "Sequana" is the Latin version of Gaulish "Isicauna", which would be the diminutive of "Icauna", which was the Gaulish name of the Yonne River. 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, place of original (according to Thucydides) of the Sicanoi of Sikelia (Sicily), with the river Sequana (Seine). ["THE SCOTTISH REVIEW", vol XIX (Jan-Apr 1892), p. 33]

Further downstream in what is now Normandy, the Seine was known as "Rodo", or "Roto", which is a traditional Celtic name for rivers, and is also the original name of the Rhône River (see Rhône article for further explanations). This is proved by the name of Rouen, which was "Rotomagos" in Gaulish, meaning "field, plain ("magos" in Gaulish, whose meaning evolved into "market") of the Roto".


The Seine 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) from its mouth. At Paris, 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. It is 776 km (486 miles) long and flows into the Atlantic Ocean from the continent.

The tidal 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. Then two 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 at Montereau-Fault-Yonne. From the mouth of the Yonne, larger ships can continue upstream the Seine till Nogent-sur-Seine. From there on, the river is only navigable for 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. This canal has been abandoned for many years now. [cite web|url=|title=NoorderSoft Waterways Database]

The average depth of the Seine today at Paris is about eight metres.Fact|date=June 2008 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 secondFact|date=March 2008, 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 city. The Seine again rose to threatening levels in 1924, 1955, 1982 and 1999-2000. [ [ Seine River Basin] , United Nations Environment Programme Department of Early Warning and Assessment (accessed 5 June 2007] 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. [ "Fearing a Big Flood, Paris Moves Art"] by Alan Riding, "The New York Times", February 19, 2003] 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, leave 200,000 without electricity and 100,000 without gas. [ [ "Paris flood warning"] by Rory Mulholland, "BBC News", 25 January 2002]

Water quality

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 has been discharged into the Seine. [Martin Seidl, "The fate of organic matter in river Seine after a combined sewer overflow", ENPC - University Paris Val de Marne Paris XII (France), 1997, 181 pp.] The resulting oxygen 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) bacterial population. The pH level of the Seine at Pont Neuf has been measured to be 8.46 [Hogan, C Michael, Water quality of fresh water bodies in France, Lumina Press, Aberdeen 2006]


Legend has it that after Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431, her ashes were thrown into the Seine, though counter-claims persist into the present-day. [In February 2006 a team of forensic scientists announced the beginning of a six-month study to assess relics from a museum at Chinon and reputed to be the remains of Jeanne d'Arc. In an [ April 4, 2007 article] from "Nature", the investigators reported their conclusion that the relics from Chinon came from an Egyptian mummy and a cat.]

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.

Until the 1930s, a towing system using a chain on the bed of the river existed to facilitate movement of barges upriver.Fact|date=June 2008

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. 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 victims of the Paris massacre of 1961 drowned in the Seine after being thrown off from the Pont Saint-Michel and other locations in Paris.

Dredging in the 1960s mostly eliminated tidal bores on the river, known as "“le mascaret.”"

In 1991, 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. [ [ Paris, Banks of the Seine] , the World Heritage Site entry from the UNESCO website]

The river is popular site for suicides and the disposal of bodies of murder victims. [ Supermodel Katoucha Niane found dead] from "The Daily Telegraph"] In 2007, 55 bodies were retrieved from its waters; in February 2008, the body of supermodel-turned-activist Katoucha Niane was found there.


During the 19th and the 20th centuries, the Seine has inspired many painters including:

*Frédéric Bazille
*Maurice Boitel
*Richard Parkes Bonington
*Eugène Boudin
*Camille Corot
*Charles-François Daubigny
*Raoul Dufy
*Othon Friesz
*Carl Fredrik Hill
*Eugène Isabey
*Johan Barthold Jongkind
*Raimond Lecourt
*Albert Marquet
*Claude Monet
*Luis F. Pinzón
*Camille Pissarro
*Emilio Grau Sala
*Gaston Sébire
*Georges-Pierre Seurat
*Constant Troyon
*Joseph Mallord William Turner
*Félix Vallotton
*Édouard Vuillard

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, "Nightfall".
*"Down In The Seine" is a song from The Style Council's album "Our Favourite Shop"
*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.


ee also

* Seine (département), abolished in 1968

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • seine — seine …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • Seine — Verlauf und Einzugsgebiet der SeineVorlage:Infobox Fluss/KARTE fehlt Daten …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Seine [1] — Seine (spr. ßän[e], bei den Alten Sequana), einer der Hauptströme Frankreichs, entspringt 471 m ü. M. im Depart. Côte d Or auf dem Südwestabhang des Plateau von Langres bei Chanceaux, durchströmt in nordwestlicher Hauptrichtung die Departements… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Seine — Seine, n. [F. seine, or AS. segene, b?th fr. L. sagena, Gr. ????.] (Fishing.) A large net, one edge of which is provided with sinkers, and the other with floats. It hangs vertically in the water, and when its ends are brought together or drawn… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Seine [2] — Seine (spr. ßǟn[e]), Departement im nördlichen Frankreich, aus einem Teil der ehemaligen Provinz Ile de France gebildet, wird von dem Depart. Seine et Oise ganz eingeschlossen, ist das kleinste Departement Frankreichs, mit einem Areal von 479 qkm …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Seine — • Seine, né à Maymont au IVème siècle, moine à Réomé, fonda un monastère près des sources de la Seine. Fête le 19 septembre. • Seine, abbé en Bourgogne, au VIème siècle. Nom gaulias Sequanus …   Dictionnaire des saints

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  • Seine — the Seine a river in northern France which flows through Paris and Rouen, and flows into the English Channel near Le Havre …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • seine — (n.) O.E. segne drag net, from W.Gmc. *sagina (Cf. O.S., O.H.G. segina), a West Germanic borrowing of L. sagena (source of Fr. seine), from Gk. sagene a fishing net, also a hunting net, of unknown origin …   Etymology dictionary

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