• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    Paris, Banks of the Seine

  • Historical Function

    Defense, politics, religion, culture and industry.

  • Administrative Status

    Capital of France.

Location and site

At the heart of the Parisian Basin, the city developed in a bend of the Seine River between its junctions with the Marne River and with the Oise River. The banks and islands of Paris extend from the Sully Bridge to the Iéna Bridge.

Urban Morphology

Île de la Cité, located at the historic crossroads of a waterway and a land transportation route, is the heart of Paris. Between upriver of Île St-Louis and Place du Trocadéro, about twenty bridges link the two riverbanks and the islands, creating a multiplicity of perspective views of the river. On both sides of the river, but especially on the south side, a system of grand rectilinear avenues laid out according to Haussmann's plan renewed the urban design in the 19th century and created a splendid effect.

The ensembles on the riverbanks of Paris and their adjacent neighbourhoods possess great architectural richness. Monuments of Gothic, Classical, Renaissance and Second-Empire expression are lined up to create perspective views which, in some cases, extend from one riverbank to the other. New forms in concrete, glass or marble have added to the ensemble. The river accentuates the preservation and the unity of this exceptional landscape.

Registration Criteria

The banks of the Seine River are lined with masterpieces. Some of these have provided a definitive reference for the dissemination of Gothic construction, while others have influenced the urban design of European capitals. The Marais quarter and Île Saint-Louis offer coherent architectural ensembles with very significant examples of 17th- and 18th-century Parisian construction. (I) The urban design scheme of Haussmann has inspired the plans of major cities in the New World. Finally, the Eiffel Tower and the Palais de Chaillot are distinguished testimonies to the great universal exhibitions. (II)

Historical Reference

  • The activity of the early Parisii, who settled on Île de la Cité, was centred on the Seine River. After being conquered by Caesar in 53 B.C., Lutetia expanded on the island and the north side of this navigable river. The cardo, a road axis, crossed the Seine River at this fortified node. The island was served by a port.
  • In the 9th century, the Normans used the river route to devastate the city. After this, fortresses were erected to protect the entrances of the bridges, in particular the Grand Châtelet and the Petit Châtelet.
  • After becoming the prosperous capital of the Capetians in 987, Paris expanded along the south bank, exploiting its better port conditions and access to markets on the north side of the river. Royal residences were erected on the site of the Gaul-Roman palace on the downriver tip of Île de la Cité. In 1263, the water merchants' guild founded the first municipal government.
  • On the north side of the river, the powerful fortress of the Louvre, the future residence of Charles V (1364-1380), was erected under Philippe Auguste (1180-1223).
  • The urban growth that took place under Henry IV (1589-1610) was maintained under Louis XIII (1610-1643) and Île St-Louis was developed.
  • In 1960 the port and industrial functions of the riverbanks disappeared. Until then, the Canal Saint-Martin, constructed between 1802 and 1825, played an essential trading role in the eastern section of Paris. Since then, the banks of the Seine have welcomed major cultural realisations, notably the Musée d'Orsay.
Mme Anne Hidalgo
Mairie de Paris
Place de l'Hôtel de Ville
Paris, France
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