10 unusual facts about the Seine

Anecdotes, secrets and stories about the Seine between Paris, Rouen and Le Havre.

Between Paris, Rouen and Le Havre, the Seine travels for almost 200 km before flowing into the English Channel. The river and its surroundings are full of stories and secrets. But do you really think you know this river? Here are 10 unusual facts about the Seine, its development through the ages and the stories that surround it.

The Seine is more than 14,000 years old

Although humans have made many changes and developments, the course of the river has remained mostly the same since 12,000 BC.

The goddess of the Seine

In Gallic mythology, Sequana is the nymph of the springs of the Seine. Located in a park, an ancient Gallo-Roman sanctuary at Source-Seine in Burgundy Franche-Comté, these springs can still be visited and are the property of the city of Paris, a true 21st arrondissement for the capital!

The Seine estuary

At Le Havre, the estuary of the Seine is one of the three largest in France, along with the Gironde and the Loire. It comprises almost 10,000 hectares of wetlands with typical areas of salt meadows, reed beds, wet meadows, and mudflats. These natural areas are protected by ‘La Réserve Naturelle de l’Estuaire de la Seine’.

The Vikings travelled up the Seine

In 841, the Vikings plundered Neustria, set fire to Rouen and laid siege to France, as they sailed up the river on their famous longships!

The Pont de Normandie

In the 1980s, the only way to cross the Le Havre estuary was via the Pont de Tancarville. With road traffic increasing drastically, a new bridge was needed. In 1987, the construction of the Pont de Normandie was launched by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to facilitate trade between Honfleur and Le Havre. Spanning the Seine estuary, the bridge is now one of the 10 finest bridges in France.

The Seine and the Normandy landings

At the beginning of June 1944, numerous Allied bombings destroyed most of the bridges located between Paris and the sea, constituting strategic points that were essential to the smooth running of the of D-Day.

The great flood of 1910

The Seine is a centennial river, which means that every year there is a one in 100 chance that the river will flood. In 1910, Parisians had to travel by boat during a record flood of 8,62 metres above the Pont d’Austerlitz.

Rouen Cathedral

On the right bank of the Seine in Rouen stands Rouen Cathedral, the highest in France. Notice to history enthusiasts, it houses one of the three tombs of Richard the Lionheart, King of England, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Poitiers, Count of Maine, and Count of Anjou in the 12th century.

The Seine and Parisian street numbers 

The Seine had a real influence on the way Parisian streets were numbered. Streets perpendicular or oblique to the river always have their first number at the entrance to the street on the side closest to the Seine. Parallel street numbers follow the direction of the current in ascending order.

The sinking of the Télémaque

It was in Rouen in 1790 that the ship Télémaque sank for reasons that are still unclear. Numerous myths circulate claiming that the ship was carrying a fabulous treasure, which is still today believed to be lost at the bottom of the Seine.