River Seine

The river Seine, France's most famous watercourse, has long shaped the history and industrial production of the regions it flows through.

Naval warships and cargo boats were constructed in shipyards on its banks; huge tree-trunks from the forests that grew along its tributaries were floated down its length for building and firewood; a particular sort of flat-bottomed sailing ship, the gribane, was constructed by the hundred to allow the work of building dykes along its length; the dykes, begun in the early 19th century and finished in the 1960s, have kept Rouen, many kilometres inland, effectively a sea port. Hundreds of ferries were needed to cross the river at different points, and nine are still running just in the section between Rouen and the sea; three magnificent bridges have been built on the lower Seine since 1959 to allow easier crossing, including the Pont de Normandie, completed in 1994 and just over two kilometres long.

The river Seine seen from Chateau Gaillard

People living near the river have been fishermen, laundresses, farmers, pilots, ferrymen, millers - all relying on the river for their livelihood; all travelling on its great waters from birth to death.

The river runs for 776 kilometres, but its impact on people's lives has always - and will always - be much greater than statistics can describe.

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