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Seine

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The Seine is, of course, all about Paris – though there is more to it than that, if more were needed. It is 482 miles (776km) long, rising at Source-Seine, near Dijon in northeastern France and flowing through Paris and Rouen to the English Channel at Le Havre. One of the glories of this river is its many bridges. In Paris alone there are 37 including such glorious examples as the 1860 Pont Louis-Philippe and the oldest, the Pont Neuf in the heart of medieval Paris. The Seine is navigable from the Channel up to Rouen by ocean-going ships and, after the tidal Seine Maritime, four locks lift vessels to the same river level as Paris. However, most cruises begin in Paris and use river boats to explore its length.

The Seine contributes greatly to the romance of Paris, especially at night when the lights of its bridges and great monuments reflect in its waters. By day, you can pass by a roll call of the city’s greatest sights – from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde to the Grand Palais, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the wide boulevards that Haussman created to establish the city we know today. Beyond Paris, the river passes through towns and landscapes that are of both historic and artistic renown. Vernon, for instance, was the home of the impressionist painter Claude Monet and his wonderful house and garden at Giverny whose water lilies he painted over and over again. Rouen is the city where Joan of Arc was martyred and has the magnificent Notre Dame cathedral. Rouen is close to the Second World War Normandy beaches as well as being surrounded by picturesque Norman villages and their delicious products – cider, soft cheeses and Calvados. Closer to the Channel still are exquisite towns such as Honfleur, opposite Le Havre, and Les Andelys with its stronghold dating back to Richard the Lionheart.