Paris River Seine

The quaysides, the islands, left bank, right bank ... Travelling through Paris along the Seine

Following the Seine through Paris is a way of enjoying a thousand different escapades on the river, its bridges and islands. Daytime or night time, Left Bank or Right Bank, you will appreciate the buzz of activity along the quaysides and the lapping of the waves. There are any number of ways to relax – aboard a boat, cycling, walking briskly, sauntering lazily, or working out, dining, dancing on barges, exploring an area between two exhibitions, taking a post-shopping break, or sunbathing in a swimsuit. You never fail to be filled with wonder at these riverbanks, classed as a world heritage site by Unesco.
Through the arch of a bridge you’ll catch sight of the Grand and Petit Palais, people fishing, mallard ducks circling in the water, the Louvre playing hide and seek with a pleasure boat, Notre-Dame looming up to the sound of a street musician playing a violin and, in the distance, the silhouette of a crane in a naval construction yard between weeping willow trees.
Paris owes its motto to the Seine, fluctuat nec mergitur – “it is buffeted by the waves but does not sink”. The Seine tells the story of Paris, from its birthplace on the Île de la Cité to the transformation of the quays at Bercy upstream and the triumphant Eiffel Tower downstream.

1 Port de l'Arsenal

Port de l'Arsenal, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

A former mercantile port, the Port de l’Arsenal connects the river Seine to the Saint-Martin Canal. Originally designed as a fortification against enemy attacks, it is now home to numerous pleasure boats, seagulls and seafood restaurants, much to the delight of Parisians and visitors alike looking for a spot of peace away from the traffic and noise of the capital.

2 Joséphine Baker swimming pool

Piscine Joséphine Baker, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Maybe you didn’t know, but floating baths were already fashionable in the 18th century. There were once several on the Seine. The Joséphine Baker swimming pool, moored on the Left Bank, reaffirms the genre in version that is high-tech and ecologically-friendly, with all modern comforts. Facilities include a main pool and a 50 m² paddling pool for children. There are also solariums, saunas, a hammam, a Jacuzzi, and a fitness and weights room.

3 Jardin Tino-Rossi

Jardin Tino Rossi, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand - Augustin Cardenas

The Saint-Bernard quayside on the Left Bank, between Pont de Sully and Pont d’Austerlitz, has been turned into a pleasant garden featuring works by contemporary artists like Brancusi, César and Gilioli. During the day this outdoor sculpture museum is a paradise for joggers and walkers, while on spring and summer evenings, it becomes an open-air dance floor. Aficionados and beginners from all over the world meet up here to dance the salsa, rock and tango by the waterside. Magical moments guaranteed!

4 Parc Rives de Seine

Parc Rives de Seine, Paris © Jean-Baptise Gurliat / Mairie de Paris

Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the Seine riverbanks running through the heart of Paris have been transformed from an expressway into a 10-hectare park, swapping tarmac for grass and trees. The roads have been replaced by plants and countless fun things to do. A riverside promenade that takes pedestrians from Place de la Bastille to the Eiffel Tower.

5 Seine riverside booksellers

Bouquinistes, Quai de Seine, Paris © Thinkstock

For four hundred years, booksellers offering an array of great and less familiar literature have lined the embankment walls on both sides of the river, from the Pont Royal to the Pont de Sully. Each of these small green boxes offers up a marvellous assortment of rare books, original editions, engravings, postcards, illustrated journals, comic strips, novels, or intriguing odds and ends, to passers-by.

6 Square du Vert-Galant

Paris, square du Vert-Galant © Jean-Pierre Viguie

Henry IV was not considered a Don Juan or a Casanova, simply because they hadn’t been born when he was alive. However, this great king of France was well-known for his amorous exploits. This square, accessible from the steps on the Pont Neuf, carries its royal nickname to great effect and forms the western point of the Île de la Cité. The equestrian statue of the monarch dominates the small garden and forms an intimate haven of calm, or romance – if your heart be so inclined – from which to admire the two banks of the Seine, its bridges and monuments.

7 Bridges of Paris

Pont Neuf, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

These thirty-seven bridges offer stunning views of the city seen from the river and recount thirtyseven wonderful stories of kings, battles, legends etc, to discover with the wind in your hair. Since it was built in 1604, the Pont Neuf, Paris’s oldest bridge with its 385 sculpted masks and famous half-moon-shaped turrets, has seen the entire history of Paris go by. The Pont Alexandre III, star of the 1900 Exposition Universelle, is a celebration of Franco-Russian friendship with an exuberance of sculpted nymphs and garlands, bronze candelabras and gleaming gold equestrian statuary. The Pont des Arts – the haunt of lovers – is also a favourite place to linger for dreamers and picnickers, as is the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor footbridge, which links the Musée d’Orsay to the Tuileries gardens. The city’s most recent bridge is the Simone de Beauvoir wooden footbridge, which links the weighty knowledge of the Bibliothèque Nationale library to the gardens of Bercy in a graceful, uplifting arch. That leaves thirty-two bridges: discover your favourite.

8 Musée d’Orsay

Musée d'Orsay, Paris © OTCP - David Lefranc

Plans to demolish it in 1970 were overturned just in time and the Orsay train station became a listed building. Its immense volumes were transformed into a museum whose canopy, nave, cupolas, pillars, iron girders and stucco decors draw unanimous praise. The huge clock in the glass roof of the central alley dominates a chronological layout over three main levels, focussing on the major artistic movements in Western art from 1848 to 1914: painting, sculpture, graphic arts and art objects, as well as furniture, architecture and photography. The period was so productive, the collections so rich in wonderful works (and in –isms: expressionism, fauvism, etc.) that it seems impossible to cite one unique masterpiece.

9 Rosa Bonheur on Seine

Barge Rosa sur Seine © Maxime Dufour Photographies

Moored opposite the Grand Palais and the Alexandre III Bridge, the ‘Rosa Bonheur’ boat benefits from a stunning location! For a drink, a pizza and especially for dancing, the Rosa Bonheur on Seine has everything for a great night out in Paris.