Unless you’re familiar with Paris, you might not know that the river that runs through the famous city is called La Seine. You pronounce it with an ay sound: Sayn. The Seine snakes through Paris diving the city into two, much like the Thames cuts through London. In Paris, the north bank is called the right bank, River Droite. Face west, and it’s easier to remember. The left or south bank is called River Gauche. The banks of the river Seine were included in the list of UNESCO Hertiage Sites back in 1991.
37 bridges cross over the Parisian river, making both banks easily accessible. Some of the bridges really are are worth visiting, so you might want to take that into account and plan where you cross over. Pont Neuf is one such bridge. As the oldest bridge in Paris, it dates back to 1607 and even features in famous paintings (there is a Renoir called Pont Neuf in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC).
Pont Alexandre III
Although more modern, this is certainly an impressive bridge. I actually just found it by chance when I was ambling around the vicinity of the Eiffel Tower. The gleaming, over-the-top Beaux-Arts style arch spans the Seine connecting the Champs-Elysées with the Invalides and Eiffel Tower. Look out for the winged horses, cherubs, nymphs, art nouveau lamps and images of the Gallic rooster (the unofficial symbol of France).
Pont des Arts
Made famous by the love-lock phenomenon, this pedestrian bridge was the first metal bridge in Paris. It was originally supposed to resemble a hanging garden with trees, plenty of flowers and benches to sit on and enjoy the view. After a series of mishaps (war and barging accidents), the bridge partly collapsed and was re-built and re-opened in 1984. The bridge is a great place to enjoy a picnic or painting en plein air (if it’s not over the summer holidays). The authorities have tried to discourage the love locks, since the weight was threatening the safety of the bridge. By 2015 there were about a million locks estimated to be placed along the walkway weighing around 45 tons!
Walking Along the Seine
If you’d like to see as much as possible while walking near the Seine, check out this map that I created for you over here. The mapped route starts at the Eiffel Tower and is about 8km or 5 miles long. The route is on the Rive Droite and includes the three famous bridges mentioned above. It also includes the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elyées, Place de la Concorde, the relaxing Tuileries Garden, the Louvre and then ends at Notre Dame on Ile de la Cité.
Dinner on the Seine
If all your walking around has make you feel a little tired, I highly recommend doing what the locals do: have a pique-nique. This is probably as good as a dinner river cruise, or better. Buy a selection of salads and something to drink from Carrefour. Let your legs hang over the river wall and watch the sunset light reflecting off the Seine.