The last time I journeyed up the Seine at sunset was hilariously embarrassing. We grabbed the best seat on the boat to view the scenery but failed to realise it was actually a permanently moored boat. Late as usual, I rushed to the bar of the (stationary) boat to buy relaxing cocktails, only to watch the other 50 tourists sail off into the sunset!
So, some things you might not know about the Seine:
- It runs for 776 km through France and for 13 kms through Paris from east to west;
- In Paris the banks of the Seine are connected by a total of 37 bridges and oldest (the Petit Pont, between Ile de la Cite and Rue St Jacques on the left bank) was built by the Romans in 1st century AD;
- In 3rd century BC, a Celtic tribe of fisher people, the Parisii, settled between the banks of the Seine on the small strip of land we know today as the Ile de La Cite;
- Napoleon wanted (in his will) to be buried “on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of the French people [whom I] loved so much.” (This didn’t actually happen because Louis XVIII thought that if he was buried there, it would incite political unrest);
- Not only has the Seine been an important source of transport, but it was also a major water source for Parisians – a water pump called the Samaritaine was built under the Pont-Neuf in the 17th century, and it supplied water to the Louvre until the mid 19th century.
- The river was also a natural “bath tub” for Parisians, and swimming was prohibited in 1923 – however, you can still sunbathe along the bank during the summer Paris Plages.