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#The Seine River

The Seine River that crosses Paris is an ideal place for a pleasant stroll, where you can soak up the Parisian landscape and atmosphere. But this special river is much more than a travel route and a tourist attraction. It divides the city into two - Upper Paris (the "right bank"), which is the center of commerce, and Lower Paris ("the left bank"), which has created for itself a chic and intellectual image. The river is 780 kilometers long.

The river flows from northern France and is one of the country's main commercial transportation routes. In addition to Paris, it flows through the cities of Trois, Rouen and Le Havre.

While walking on the banks of the river, you can see some of the city's most important sites, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Bourbon Palace, the Orsay Museum, the Arab World Institute and more.

38 bridges decorate the Seine River, including the Pont Neuf. You can climb and cross the bridges to reach the opposite bank. The "young" and last bridge built is the Charles de Gaulle bridge. At dusk and evening, you should go to the Arts Bridge near the Louvre, which attracts many artists who come to photograph the landscape at this magical hour. The Seine River is not that wide, however, the bridges that cross it reserve themselves a respected place in the world of architecture and public construction.

While France was a Roman province, the Seine was known in Latin as "Sequana", i.e. "originating from the river of Hyun."

#The "Old Bridge" of the Seine

The Pont Neuf, commonly known as the "old bridge", is the oldest bridge in Paris. It was built in 1578. There are bridges built on the foundations of the previous ones and kept their name, but the Pont Neuf stands for more than 400 years, which makes it the oldest of the 38 bridges on the river. In 1986, the bridge attracted the attention of Christo, the environmental artist who was known for wrapping landscape pieces in large fabrics took upon himself the wrapping of the bridge.

The Pont Neuf was built as a solution to an age-old problem: Traffic. Yes, just like on roads. In its neighboring bridges - the Moneychangers' Bridge and the Notre Dame Bridge, there was traffic and crowds of too many people. This required another crossing between the two banks of the Seine.

King Henry the 3rd arrived at this bridge after the funeral of his two small children. Due to the heavy mourning that prevailed in the city during this period, the bridge was called "the bridge of tears." It was later nicknamed the "drunkards bridge" because of the wine tax levied on ships sailing under it. This nickname has also been lost in the course of time and the name ended up being the official and uninspired name - Pont Neuf.

On the archways of the bridge are frozen faces with frowns. Legend has it, that Henry the 3rd's men were the inspiration of the statues. The niches, suitable for romantic couples, were used for commerce and shady business. In addition, in the first years after its construction, the new bridge became a lively prostitution center, due to the concept of the bridges area as a "twilight zone." In the 17th century, the Paris police decided to clean up the plague of prostitution from the new bridge and take significant actions against it.

#The Division of the City in Two

The Seine divides the city of Paris into two - Upper Paris (the "right bank") and Lower Paris ("the left bank").

The right bank is identified with elegant and luxurious areas such as Vendome Square or Place de Vouz.
The most famous street in the right bank is the Champs-Elysées, but there are other important streets such as Rue Rivoli, the Rue de la Paix, Saint Honoré and others.
The population on the right bank is complex. There are rich, affluent neighborhoods in the west alongside workers and immigrants and gradually poorer neighborhoods. This bank is hectic, commercial, functional and has a large population density. Most of the leading companies, banks and business activity are concentrated here.

The left bank is identified as more bohemian. It is quiet, green and more historic. The most prominent district is the Latin district.

The main streets on the left bank are Saint-Germain Boulevard and Saint-Michel Boulevard. But beyond the geographical difference between it and the right bank, the name refers to cultural and social characteristics of the population itself. In addition, most institutions, such as universities, research institutes and hospitals, are concentrated in the Left Bank.

#The Seine's Islands

There seems to be no river without an island. The two small islands in the center of the Seine are pieces of land smaller than one square kilometer. The islands, Ile Saint-Louis (the smallest of the two) and Ile de la Cité, look like little pearls within the local Parisian landscape. They are busy tourist centers that are a combination of medieval architecture with modern attractions.

Ile Saint-Louis was named after Louis the 9th of France. It is connected to the rest of Paris by a system of bridges - the Saint-Louis Bridge (linking the island to Il de la Cité), the La Tournelle bridge (connecting the island to the left bank), the Louis Philippe bridge (connecting the island to the right bank), the Marie Bridge (connecting the island to the right bank as well) and the Solly Bridge (which crosses the island from the right bank to the left). The islands are used primarily for residential purposes, but in the past they were two uninhabited islands that served as cattle grazing grounds and as a place to store trees.

A palace from the Roman period is located in the western side of Ile de la Cité, the larger island of the two, while the eastern side has been devoted since that period to religious affairs. Among other things you can find Notre Dame Cathedral on it. The area between the islands was intended, until the 1850's, for residential and commercial purposes. Since then it has been developed with police offices, the Paris Hall of Justice, the Hospital Hôtel-Dieuu and more. Today, only the western and northern parts of the island are used for residential purposes and among them you will even find some remains of houses from the 16th century.

#The Seine River for Tourists

In almost every city located near water, the water is like a mirror in which the city sees its own reflection. For hundreds of years, poets, painters, philosophers, writers, architects, lovers, suicidal people and even tourists - felt a strong attraction to the water. It is no coincidence that the city developed around this huge avenue, or that the early Parisian tribes were attacked here by the Romans. By the way, the river is still the main commercial waterway of Paris.

Tourists are often confused between the two banks - the right and left, they waste hours looking in maps and try to find on which side they are on. The trick is to remember that when you are standing at the bottom of the river (In the direction of the slope of the river), the left bank is to your left and the right bank is to your right. If you can't figure out which direction the water is flowing, find a piece of floating debris and observe which way it is floating.

There are 32 bridges on the Seine river, some more impressive than the others. The most ancient bridge is the Pont Neuf, which was immortalized by artists and poets and is even mentioned in 20th-century movies.
The bridge crosses a small island from which guided tours on small boats begin. In the spring or summer it is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon on bench under the willow trees, sunbathe a bit and stroll through the gardens in the center. If you're a person who likes to look at boats, this is an excellent spot. In fact, this is one of the nicest places to go around in Paris.

Another popular bridge is the Von des Arts, built out of metal and designed entirely for pedestrians. It has an amazing view, perhaps one of the most beautiful in Paris. People bring bottles of wine with them and have a picnic, others bring guitars and the atmosphere is always light and festive. Under the bridge, at both side of the docks you can see lots of sunbathers, cyclists and runners.

#Tragedies in the Seine River

The Seine is a romantic and astounding tourist area, that allows you to see the city from different angles, but in the winter, especially at night, the river may become a dark and even frightening site. We do not even want to imagine the stories that happened in this river. The figures show 10 murders in the river each year and 120 people trying to commit suicide. About 70 bodies are drawn from the water annually.

One of the familiar people is Paul Celan. The tormented poet of the Holocaust, who for years identified with the existential experience of his people. When he felt that he could no longer live the terrible past, he went through periods of mental crisis, depressions, hospitalizations and finally - dived to his death in this river.

There is also the story of "the unknown woman from the Seine River." At the end of 1880 the body of a young woman was found in the river. There were no signs of violence on the body, and it could be assumed that she had committed suicide. The pathologist, who was shown her body in the morgue, was amazed at the beauty of the young woman who seemed to smile at her death and wanted to make a mask of her face. The masks began to sell quickly in the markets and it became popular among the French bohemians of the time. The mask can be found in the houses of many writers, painters and poets.

In the 60's the unknown woman from Seine's mask was used as the face of the first resuscitation doll, and it is claimed that it made her the most kissed face of all time. The real identity of the unknown woman, has never been discovered.

The great tragedies that took place near the river are the most fascinating stories, those less familiar with tourists. This does not mean that the Seine River represents death, but it is interesting to think of it as part of the life cycle.

A Closer Look:


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אֵאוּרִיקַה - האנציקלופדיה של הסקרנות!

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