I wanted to tell you about Seine River, and now it is overflowing!
Of course, we are far from the 1910's Flood when water reached the Zouave's shoulders! And now, you are lost, because you don't have a clue what I'm talking about... Please, let me narrate the story of a river that saw Paris' birth!
Seine travels 481,56 miles, imagine 18 times Paris' marathon or even distance between Paris and Marseille! But Loire with its 623,24 miles wins easily the battle!
Destination: Paris' River
The concept of a river in the middle of a city or next to it is a very important point for a tribute to decide to settle. It is an excellent way for communication and exchanges, and also a natural fortress to protect oneself!
Paris is born on that principle, in a rolling basin where two arms were wrapping a multitude of islands, where marshy banks were discouraging the most skilled soldiers. Big abundant-in-game forests, hills from which many springs dashed... It echoes to us like an earthly paradise... We are long away from this grey city that turns sullen parisian faces!
Since Antiquity, we adore the purity of the river. A pilgrimage is also organised at its source, well, I should say " sources"! Let's go to Burgundy- Free- County ( Bourgogne- France-Comté) in a village of Golden Coast ( Côte d'Or) very inspiring : " Source- Seine" where a basin was set up in gallo-roman period so the pilgrims were able to implore the goddess by making a wish or asking to be cured! This water then changes into the shape of a goddess called Sequana.
Once upon a time, a goddess with green eyes, daughter of Bacchus, she helped, with five of her nymph friends, Ceres, to find her daughter Proserpina. The reunion happened in Normandy. To take a walk so close to the sea, Neptune fast noticed Sequana, and succumb to the charm of our beautiful goddess! But, when Neptune loves, he shuts away... This is why Sequana fled with all her strength, before being entrapped in the heart of what we know now as Brugundy. So, she invoked her father and her friend Ceres to save her. Thus, she turned into a lovely river to the colour of her emerald eyes and managed to slip out of Neptune's hands... As for the 5 nymphs who went with her? They became tributaries of the goddess...
This anthropomorphism's habit which comes from Romans, represents her, here , with real plump and chubby shape, very similar to the statue of Paul Auban sculpted in 1934, which is located in the niche at its source. (Auban copied the sculpture ordered by Napoléon III in Jouffroy in 1867 to embellishthe source's cave), celle-ci this one is the masterpiece of the renowned sculptor from Lille in early XXth century: Gérard Choain.
Located on the Right bank at the entrance of Alma's bridge, nobody really pay attention to her... Tourists, like fireflies, rush on its goldy rival just in front: the famous flame of the Statue of Liberty offered in 1987 by United States, nowadays, it is mostly used as a memorial to the regretted Princess Diana, after her car accident in the tunnel right underneath in 1997.
I'd like you to consider the water lane that cross the Capital...
Seine permits to Parisii a natural protection and a comunication link with other tribes, they settled then on two of its islands. It also permitted Vikings to plunder the city several times between 845 and 885, to Philip Augustus a victory against the English in 1204... This is also thanks to her that, during the siege of Clovis, Genevieve managed to resupply starving Parisians with boats full of wheat... ( here represented as a child: " Paris" of who she is the patron saint, behind her: Restaurant of La Tour d'Argent), thanks to her again, that since the XVIth century, we transported wood in the Capital by using the floating method, and still the sweetness of her surface that we prefered to carry the famous obelisk of Louxor in the XIXth century...
Its water is very valued too, as evidenced by the steam Room House ( la maison des étuves) on the City Island, where kings were able to enjoy a swim, parisians too didn't mind until the end of XIXth century, they would lounge in the river's water, even though it was already very dirty... Arnold de Ville permitted to supply Verailles' Fountains with Marly Machine located 4,35 miles away from the castle.
Mastering Nature, shaping it, is a peculiarity of human beings, this is how, following the terrible floods that happened in Paris, we redesigned the Seine River. First big modification: Charles V changed the marshes in an aristocrat district. He used also a forgotten part of the River as dovers all along his city wall, what is known nowadays as Grands Boulevards: Seine's oxbow lake! It was dried up in the XVIth century. Over time, multitudes of springs disappeared too, I'm thinking about Haussman who favoured a coverall by burying the Bièvre, river which had prepared in Neolithic, the bed of our actual River... About this, Anne Hidalgo would like to make reappear this river settled in the heart of Paris! ("utopian" for some… to be continued!)
Seine, this is also abundant meals scattered on its travel, and one well-known pump: The Samaritan! This name might remind you a Shopping Center. Well, you should be informed that the creator: Ernest Cognacq started working on a niche of " Pont Neuf", exactly where, few years before, was still standing the pump that was providing water to Tuileries gardens! And now, since 1870, this is on the quay, just in front, that the notorious mall is settled! The White Horse Hotel and LVMH selected this huge site freshly renovated... The opening initially planned for 2020, has been postponed this year... Crisis is not helping, as we see the Opening always rescheduled. Last call? April 2021: let's cross fingers!
Like you see, a stroll along the Seine is a mixt of architectures and History... And among the most popular: the Flood! Very regular in olden times, they became a deep interest of arangement especially after 1910's Flood, when the oxbow lake came up again from its grave... We removed all obstacles on its travel such as locks, we added 4 basins upstream on the River itself but also on its tributaries, and those lakes are about the same size as the Capital: 38,61 mi²! These streches welcoming the Seine's flood, permit to relieve the massive water coming on the Capital. You can follow their gauges that can reach 830 millions of cubicmeters !
Right now, all almost full, we can see the water is rising, thanks to the Zouave statue under Alma's bridge and also to the many scales criss-crossing Paris!
If we believe this one, located under Ivalides' bridge, we should be really worried for 2024!
Enough revealing secrets: Seine is a bottomless pit!
I could just as well take you in one of my visits for a lovely walk along the banks and show you a part of the 37 bridges which span the magical River, I will explain you it shouldn't be called "Seine" but "Yonne"...