The Seine (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.
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).
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 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.
The average depth of the Seine today at Paris is about eight metres. 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 second, 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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
The river is popular site for suicides and the disposal of bodies of murder victims. 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: