The lifeblood of Paris, the River Seine plays many roles in the city: It separates the Right Bank from the Left Bank, acting as a dividing line between Paris’ historically sophisticated and bohemian halves; it provides transportation via riverboat and plenty of opportunity for romantic strolls; and its riverbanks are a UNESCO World Heritage Site lined with the city’s top landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Musée d’Orsay, Jardin des Tuileries, and the Louvre.
One of the best ways to see the Seine is to walk along it, particularly on the central stretch from Les Invalides to Ile Saint-Louis, where you can zigzag across the river on bridges such as Pont Alexandre III, Pont Royal, and Pont des Arts to see some of the most elegant and well-known architecture in France. Alternatively, a Seine River cruise allows you to rest your legs and admire the same sights; book a brunch, lunch, or dinner cruise to combine your sightseeing with a French meal, or opt for an Eiffel Tower combo to enjoy two of Paris’ most popular activities in one tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Running through Paris’ main tourist areas, the river’s hard to miss; you won’t have to go far to find it.
- More than 30 bridges span the Seine within Paris city limits.
- Wear comfortable shoes for walking along the banks and bridges.
- Be prepared for crowds on popular bridges like Pont des Arts.
How to Get There
Bordering 10 of Paris’ 20 arrondissements—the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 12th, 13th, 15th, and 16th—the Seine is within walking distance of many of the city’s most popular neighborhoods. By Metro, get off at Alma-Marceau, Invalides, Pont Neuf, or Saint-Michel–Notre-Dame station to reach the most central stretch of the river.
When to Get There
For a tranquil walk, head to the river in the early morning hours before most of the crowds and commuters arrive. Or go for an after-dinner stroll to take in the reflections of the City of Lights on the water.
Exploring Canal Saint-Martin
In northeast Paris, the Canal Saint-Martin district is home to smaller waterways where footbridges and trendy locals replace the Seine’s traffic and tourists. Enjoy a more laid-back atmosphere and watch boats on the locks with a wander along the tree-shaded paths.