Seine River Tours and Travel Guide
Seine River Attractions & Landmarks Guide
Flowing some 485 miles from Burgundy to the English Channel, the Seine is the second longest river in France (after the Loire). Known as "the river of Paris", the Seine is France's best known waterway.
The City of Light was founded on a little island between the Seine’s left and right banks, which now form an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some 37 bridges cross the Seine in Paris, and most visitors to the city take a short cruise on a sightseeing boat along the river to view the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral and other iconic sights.
Seine river cruises begin in Paris, and as you embark on your voyage, you’ll have a chance to explore the life, history, and culture of the river, heading northward into Normandy and toward the English Channel, where it empties into the sea.
Seine cruises are perhaps most ideal for art lovers: the scenic river has inspired a slew of famous names including Matisse, Monet, Pissarro, Seurat, Corot, Turner, Dufy, and Sisley. These artists portrayed its landscapes in a variety of styles and, in some cases, made their homes in communities along the river. But history buffs -- drawn by sites ranging from the days of Richard the Lionheart and Joan of Arc to World War II -- will also relish a Seine cruise.
Seine River Cruise Routes
Paris to Normandy
Most Seine River cruises follow roughly similar seven-to-eight-day-long itineraries as they make their way from Paris to Normandy and back, though there are frequent variations in the order of port stops, and you may be offered multiple options at each stop. Most Seine cruises offer at least an optional visit to the opulent Palace of Versailles, where Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, held court.
Vernon, a river town of half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets, is notable for its proximity to Giverny, where artist Claude Monet lived and painted for more than 40 years. Tours visit his stone farmhouse where his gardens included water lilies and a Japanese bridge familiar to museum-goers throughout the world.
Top Attractions along the Seine River
There are several port call options along the Seine River, many of which focus on the impressive art history of the region. Be sure to read the itinerary carefully to make sure the cruise stops in places that you want to see. For example, while The Palace of Versailles is a popular tour destination, it’s not a guarantee that your Seine cruise will offer an excursion there.
Here are some of the top attractions, cities, and towns to keep an eye out for on your Seine River Cruise:
The medieval city of Rouen in Normandy is a common port stop along the Seine. It’s famous Gothic cathedral served as a frequent subject in Monet paintings. Rouen is also the city where Joan of Arc was martyred in the 14th century; after being burned at the stake, her ashes were taken from Rouen’s Market Square and scattered in the Seine.
2. Normandy Beaches
The Normandy beaches -- Omaha, Gold, and Juno, where Allied troops landed in 1944 -- are a huge attraction, usually combined with visits to the D-Day Museum and the American Military Cemetery. Seine river cruises frequently have a heavy focus on Normandy, particularly those with shorter itineraries (not combined with other rivers).
If you are interested in taking a 2019 Seine river cruise, do take note that 2019 marks the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings. The area is likely to be even more crowded than usual throughout the year.
Some cruises offer the option of visiting the port of Honfleur, another Impressionist painters’ favorite. Honfleur is a quirky town, the perfect destination for art lovers. Honfleur is generally included on longer Seine cruises, though not always. Be sure to check the itinerary carefully if visiting is important to you!
4. Château Gaillard
The town of Les Andelys, known for Chateau Gaillard, a castle built by King Richard the Lionheart in 1196, is a standard on most Seine river cruise itineraries. Fantastic photo ops are to be found all around, including from the water, so be sure your camera is well charged!
The picturesque riverside town of Conflans is commonly included on Seine river cruises for the nearby attractions, more so than the town itself. Conflans is just outside Paris and has a classic European vibe, with ancient alleyways, cafes, shops, and churches. A quick drive or 2 hour walk can take you to Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent Van Gogh spent the last months of his life died.
The gardens of Giverny that so inspired Monet’s impressionist artwork are a highlight of any Seine river cruise or trip to France. Albeit the gardens are a tourist attraction through and through - but this does not diminish their appeal or beauty for travelers. To visit Giverny gardens is to practically step inside a Monet painting.
8. Palace of Versailles
Though it may not be included as an excursion option on every Seine river cruise, the Palace of Versailles is dramatic and beautiful - well worth seeing especially for history buffs. The most famous among its residents of course was Marie Antoinette. Versailles is also famous for its extensive gardens and artwork.
With a number of options available in itinerary, price and level of luxury on a Seine River cruise, it makes sense to rely on Stride’s easy-to-use tools to find the cruise line and voyage that’s right for you, on France’s most renowned river.
Find more useful tips in our blog post "Top Ten Tips for Choosing a European Cruise Line."
All Seine River cruises, tours, and packages. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 2.3 for all Seine River trips.