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The Seine may not be France’s longest river (that honour falls to the Loire River), but it is the country’s greatest and most famous waterway thanks to its path through the heart of Paris.

The City of Lights sprinkles more than its fair share of stardust over this river as it winds past the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, before flowing through the gentle chalk hills of Normandy which can be explored on hiking and biking tours.

Sleepy villages and towns dot its route towards the Channel coast, passing medieval Rouen known as the “City of One Hundred Spires” due to its many churches and cathedrals.

The Seine has traditionally been a working river too. Much of the port traffic now travels to Le Havre, though some barges still use the river and there are occasional industrial plants alongside.

When to cruise

Sailings generally run from March to October, with some December departures for the festive season. The summer virtually guarantees hot sunny weather, though this can make sightseeing in Paris hot and crowded with long queues at the most popular attractions as this is the peak visitor season. During spring and autumn, weather can be more unpredictable but temperatures are usually pleasantly mild and crowds are less.

Key Attractions

Paris dominates and cruises often include at least one overnight stay in the city at the start or end of sailings. Normandy’s pretty countryside with historic churches, abbeys and medieval towns where stops include Vernon for Giverny and the former home and gardens of impressionist painter Claude Monet, plus Les Andelys with the ruined Chateau Gaillard built by Richard the Lionheart. Other draws include Rouen, Honfleur and Caudebec which is the gateway to the Normandy Beaches.

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