From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

(Redirected from River Seine)
Jump to: navigation, search

This article is about the river in France. For other rivers named Seine, see Seine River (disambiguation). For the old Seine département, see Seine (département). A seine is also a kind of fishing net.

The Seine viewed from the Eiffel Tower. The Place de la Concorde is at top right.
The Seine viewed from the Eiffel Tower. The Place de la Concorde is at top right.
Origin Burgundy
Mouth The English Channel
Basin Countries France
Length 776 km (482 mi)
Source Elevation 471 m (1,545 ft)
Avg. Discharge 500 m³/s (17,660 ft³/s)
Watershed Area 78,650 km² (30,367 mi²)

The Seine (pronounced /sɛn/ in French) is a major river of northern France, and one of its commercial waterways. It is also a tourist attraction, particularly within the city of Paris.


Origin of the name

The name "Seine" comes from the Latin Sequana, which itself comes from Gaulish (Celtic) Sicauna. The name Sicauna is made up of Celtic sakw, which means "sacred" and comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *sak- (which also gave Latin sacer and sanctus, which in turn gave English sacred and saint), and from a Celtic (or more probably Pre-Indo-European) suffix -onna which means "source, river", and which can be found in the name of many rivers of western Europe (such as the Garonne or the Dordogne). The name "Sakw -onna" ("sacred source", "sacred river"), is also the name of several other western European rivers, such as the Saône River, and possibly also the River Shannon.

Another proposed etymology posits that Sequana is the Latin version of Gaulish Isicauna. Is-Icauna 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 should be called Yonne if the standard rules of geography were applied). Icauna comes from the Pre-Indo-European roots inka -onna. Further research will be needed to decide between both etymologies.

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 river is 780 km (485 miles) long, France's second-longest (after the Loire). Its main tributaries are the Aube, Marne and Oise rivers from the north and the Yonne and Eure rivers from the south. It is connected with canals to the Scheldt (also called the Escaut), Meuse, Rhine, Saône and Loire rivers.

The Seine rises in the French région of Burgundy, in the département of Côte-d'Or, 30 km (18 miles) northwest of Dijon at a height of 471 metres (1545 feet). The river then flows through Troyes to Paris.

In Paris, narrowed between high stone embankments, the river carries commercial barges, waterbuses and large tourist boats (bateaux-mouches). From the water, fine views are seen of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay (housing Paris' collection of Impressionist art), the Conciergerie and the Eiffel Tower. The northern side of the river is described as the Right Bank (Rive Droite) and the southern side as the Left Bank (Rive Gauche), because when facing the same direction that the river flows, these are the directions to the left and right.

The route of the river Seine, in northern France
The route of the river Seine, in northern France

The river then meanders in large loops through Normandy and Rouen, entering the English Channel (La Manche) in an estuary between Le Havre and Honfleur.

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, 445 km (277 miles) from its mouth, making it slow flowing and thus easily navigable.

The water of the Seine is an important resource. Electric power stations, thermal and nuclear, pull their cooling water from the river. Half the water used in the Paris region, both for industry and for consumption, and three quarters of the water used in the area between Rouen and Le Havre, is taken from the river.

The Seine.
The Seine.


In ancient times the Seine was known by the Latin name Sequana.

Dredging in the 1960s mostly eliminated the tidal bore ("le mascaret") and the surrounding area. It was split into four départements in 1968: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne. See: Seine (département).

The Banks of the Seine in Paris were added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1991.

See also

Seine (département)

Personal tools