The Seine is arguably one of the most famous rivers in the world, and it is closely linked to the history of Paris.

The history of the Seine

The Seine has played a central role in the history of Paris since the founding of the city. The first inhabitants of Paris built their homes on the islands of the Seine, which have since been incorporated into the city. Over the centuries, the Seine has become an important transport axis, allowing goods of all kinds to be transported to Paris. But the Seine also hides darker mysteries. Many strange objects have been found in the river over the years, ranging from abandoned cars to guns and even human bodies. Investigators often used the Seine to conceal evidence of crimes, which gave the river a sinister reputation.

A source of concern and fascination

The Seine

From the banks of the Seine, the history of Paris is drawn. We see in particular the Pont de la Concorde, built with the old stones of the prison of the Bastille, or the Ile de la Cité, which hides among the oldest traces of human presence in Paris. The river traces its route through Notre-Dame, whose construction began in 1163, or the Eiffel Tower, a remnant of the Universal Exhibition of 1889. During the Neolithic period, the Seine was not as channeled as it is today. However, the river followed much the same main course as it does today, considering that it passed further north of Bercy. Some of its secondary beds have disappeared, as is the case for the arm now covered by Boulevard Saint-Germain. It was active during the Gallo-Roman period. During the flood of 1910, the deputies reached the Palais Bourbon by boat. The river and its dangers remain a source of concern and fascination every winter. Parisians surely know the anecdote of the Zouave from the Alma bridge, who, in 1910, had his shoulders under water.

A gallo Roman temple

In the past, the Seine has come out of its bed many times. Difficulties in finding reliable sources complicate research on the frequency of floods, but writings by Julien L’Apostat, a Roman emperor, date the first flood to the year 358. Two centuries later, Grégoire-de-Tours wrote him also about the flood of February 582. It is the commune of Source-Seine, which, as its name suggests, hosts the sources of the river. Located on the Langres plateau (447 m above sea level), between Côte-d’Or (21) and Haute-Marne (52), this village of 62 souls has also given birth to other rivers : the Marne, the Aube and the Meuse. In 1864, Baron Haussmann, then prefect of Paris, proposed the purchase of the source, 231 kilometers from the capital. In 1865, the City of Paris had an artificial grotto built there, housing a statue of Sequana, the goddess of the Seine. Many visitors visit the site each year. The site also includes a Gallo-Roman temple, as the sources of the Seine were venerated since Celtic times. It is currently overgrown and not accessible. Archaeological excavations had been carried out on the site. Stopped in 1967, they only made it possible to discover a small part of this sanctuary of the “healing cult”.

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