Country: UK - Channel Islands
Boat name: Martini II
Make: Arctic 28/FC470
Length: 8m +
Engine: twin 225Opti/50hp 2t
Join Date: Jun 2005
Bit of light reading for you...
The River Seine is a commercial waterway and tourist destination in north-western France, originating near Dijon in the Côte d’Or region of Burgundy, winding its way north and up through Paris, twisting and turning on through Normandy, and eventually flowing into the English Channel between le Havre and Honfleur. The Seine flows for 776 km (482 miles) and is the longest navigable waterway in France, connected to the Loire, the Rhine, and the Rhône via a comprehensive system of canals and locks.
Having been captured by countless painters throughout the centuries and providing the backdrop for numerous literary endeavors, the banks of the Seine in Paris were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Seine sightseeing became popular within Paris with the introduction of bateaux mouches in the late 19th century. City cruises usually consist of a daytime sightseeing cruise, or a dinner cruise, or a ‘Paris by Night’ cruise to admire the well-lit and magnificent monuments of the capital after dark. Longer Seine River cruises take place from Paris through Normandy, taking in the lovely ports of call and fascinating shore excursions such as Versailles and its famed castle, Giverny and Monet’s gardens, Rouen, and Honfleur, the adorable town nestled between the Seine and the Channel. The scenery is a delight, with a blend of lush orchards, abbeys, villages, Gothic monuments, and green pastures.
Destination highlights on the Seine
The ‘City of Lights’ and the ‘City of Love’, Paris is the most visited destination in the world. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful and romantic cities the world over, Paris is renowned for its neo-Classical architecture, grand boulevards, plethora of museums, and impressive monuments. A total of 37 bridges span the river Seine as it cuts through the capital, granting a romantic atmosphere to the city, and affording lovely views to the monuments. The bridges come in all shapes and sizes and can best be seen from the river, especially on a sightseeing cruise. Seine River cruises usually dock in the center, allowing for easy exploration of the capital. Frequently the river cruise vessel incorporates a guided ‘Paris by Night’ cruise so that passengers can marvel at the luminous monuments.
The two most famous things in Paris are the Eiffel Tower (La Tour Eiffel), the symbol of Paris and of France, and the Louvre, which the symbol of art history and grand masters. The 324-meter (1,063 ft) Eiffel Tower stands guard over the Seine and straddles the Champs de Mars heading toward the Invalides, where the remains of Napoleon are buried. Previously a royal palace, the Louvre houses 35,000 works, containing an incomparable collection of Old Masters, sculptures, antiquities, and of course, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (La Joconde).
Reputed to be the ‘most beautiful avenue in the world’, the avenue des Champs Elysées runs for 2 km from the Place de la Concorde, with its Egyptian obelisk, to the Place Charles de Gaulle-Etoile, and its Arc de Triomphe. The name Champs Elysées literally means Elysian Fields, which comes from Greek Mythology and refers to the place of the blessed. The Champs Elysées has been copied and imitated, but there is nothing like the original avenue, flanked by swanky shops and exclusive hotels, swarming with tourists. At the western end of the avenue, based on the Roman Arc of Titus, stands the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc was commissioned in 1806 after the victory of Emperor Napoleon I in Austerlitz and stands over 51 meters (165 feet) high and 45 meters wide.
A landmark located on Ile de la Cité, an island in the middle of the Seine and the original settlement site of Paris, is the Cathédrale de Notre Dame. The symbol of paradise and the strength of Paris, this magnificent Gothic cathedral is awe-inspiring. Built from 1163 to 1240, the cathedral has impressive architecture and lovely 13th century rose windows.
Another landmark of Paris, the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Sacré Coeur is located on the butte of Montmartre, the tallest point of the city, which can be reached by climbing 250 steps or taking a funicular from below. Begun in 1875 and completed in 1914, the basilica is made from a special stone called travertine, ensuring the endurance of its white exterior. The Romano-Byzantine influences can be see in the overall structure and style and the Byzantine cupolas are whimsical, yet provide a memorable sight, especially when lit at night.
The skeletal exterior of the 1970s Pompidou Centre (Centre Georges Pompidou) has been a noted attraction in Paris since its inception in 1977 and houses the National Museum of Modern Art (Musée National d’Art Moderne) and a vast public library, Bibliothèque publique d’information.
Originally a railway station, the light and airy Musée d’Orsay is one of the most beautiful museums in Paris. The Orsay contains paintings, sculpture, furniture, and photography from 1848 to 1914, with an appealing collection from the Impressionists.
The Rodin Museum (Musée Rodin) is housed in the Hôtel Biron and surrounding gardens, which served as the sculptor’s residence from 1908. The museums has the famous pieces, The Thinker and The Kiss, as well as a room devoted to Camille Claudel, his talented and tortured lover, inspiration, model, and sculptress.
Paris is divided into 20 districts, or arrondissements, which fan out from the Seine like a snail shell. In the Marais, comprising the 3rd and 4th districts, there is some of the most quaint medieval type architecture, squares, and cobbled lanes to be found in the capital. Especially interesting is Paris’s oldest square, Place des Vosges, built from 1605 to 1612by Henry IV. The literary heart of Paris is located in St. Germain, with its elegant streets, chic boutiques, and crowded cafés. St. Germain was the center for the Existentialist movement of Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and home to philosopher Albert Camus.
Paris has an active day and nightlife, with an unbelievable amount of restaurants, bars, brasseries, cafés, clubs, stores, and markets. One of the fashion capitals of the world, the city is home to major Haute Couture fashion houses and a bustling textile industry.
Situated northwest of Paris at the confluence of the Oise and the Seine rivers, Conflans-Sainte-Honorine is a town with a significant shipping heritage, dating back to 1855. The town takes its name from the Château de Conflans and its gardens, which were designed by André Le Nôtre, but no longer exist, except for a lone stair. The sights include the sandstone Saint Maclou Church (Eglise Saint-Maclou), which was started in the 11th century and then subsequently improved and added to until the 19th century, and the 11th century Montjoi Tower, which was a Roman dungeon.
Positioned on the right bank of the Seine, the village of Giverny lies at the border between Normandy and Ile-de-France (Paris Region), where a settlement has existed since Neolithic times. Giverny served as the home of Claude Monet for 43 years, and he immortalized the water-lily pond and graceful archway on his grounds, now famous around the world. Thanks to Monet, the village of Giverny, Monet’s house, and its lovely gardens are among the most visited sights in France. Nearby Monet’s house is the Musée d’Art Americain Giverny, showcasing the work of Impressionists born in the USA. The Musée de Vernon has some of Monet’s work as well as his various followers, inspired by him, including his stepdaughter.
The historic capital of Normandy, Rouen was once one of the most prosperous cities in medieval Europe. Known as the ‘City of 100 Spires’, Rouen has some impressive medieval architectural treats, such as the gothic Rouen Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen), with its Butter Tower (Tour de Beure). The cathedral was the subject of many paintings by Monet and also contains a tomb with the heart of Richard the Lionheart. There is a splendid 16th century Astronomical Clock (Gros Horloge) in rue Gros Horloge. Other famous structures include the Abbey Church of Saint-Ouen, built from the 12th to the 15th centuries, and the Palais de Justice, which once served as the seat of Parliament. There are many splendid medieval half-timbered houses and buildings in the pleasant and historic town center. Known as the place where the English burned Joan of Arc, there are many sights that make reference to her brief time imprisoned within the town. The Tour de Jeanne d’Arc was the tower where she was brought in 1431 and threatened with torture. At the Old Market Square (Place de Vieux Marché) stands the modern Church of Joan of Arc, built in a form that is meant to represent the pyre on which she perished.
Just a short cruise downstream from Rouen, on the right bank of the River Seine, is Caudebec-en-Caux, a pretty medieval town. The name derives from a Scandinavian language, perhaps meaning “cold stream”, and is one of the many Norman towns with this distinction. The stretch of river between the two towns takes in lovely Normandy scenery, with lush woods, orchards, and sweeping fields. The most significant feature in the town is the Church of Caudebec-en-Caux, from the 15th and 16th centuries, with gothic balustrades and spires. Also of interest is The Templars’ House (Maison des Templiers) from the 12th and 13th century, which now houses a small museum of local archeology and history. The Musée de la marine de Seine is a museum depicting the history of river navigation. The landscape around the town is characteristic of the chalk plateau descending to the Seine Estuary.
A charming and picturesque old port town on the Seine Estuary, Honfleur is usually the turn-around point for river cruises on the Seine. The town is located opposite Le Havre, a modern and industrialized port that was seriously destroyed in the World War II Normandy bombings. An immense and modern bridge, the Normandy Bridge (Pont de Normandie), which has itself become a tourist attraction, connects the two towns. Delightful Honfleur is home to narrow medieval houses, cobbled lanes, and a colorful fishing and yacht harbor, rife with photo opportunities, the epitome of which can be found in the heart of the town, the Vieux Bassin. A premier sight is the Sainte-Catherine Church, with a bell-tower separate from the main building, which has the distinction of being the largest wooden church in France.
The special light of the town, the sky, the chalk plateau, and the harbor have attracted artists for centuries trying to capture some of the magic. The images of Honfleur, particularly the unique slate-covered frontages of its houses, were frequently the subject of paintings, including those of the école de Honfleur, such as Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet, who contributed to the appearance of Impressionism. The Musée Eugène Boudin has a collection of 19th century paintings, Impressionist works, an ethnographic history of the town, and some pieces by Monet.
Honfleur was the port from which, in the 16th century, adventurous French settlers set out for the new lands of the Canadian Territory. The old port also served as a significant trading center, as there were links with Canada, the Antilles, the African coasts, and the Azores, also making Honfleur one of France’s five principal ports for the slave trade.