Seine River Safety Tips

Rule Number 1.
Don’t fall in. Parisians will be voting for their mayor tomorrow (March 16th, 2008) and I hope one of the first things on the agenda for the City of Paris will be the installation of lifebuoys and/or ladders and ropes for those unfortunate enough to fall into the Seine River.

In 2007, 55 cadavers were pulled out of the Seine River. That’s more than one body per week! On a more cheerful note, about 140 people were saved from drowning. So what should you do if you fall in the Seine?

The first thing to do is not to panic. While using your arms and legs to tread water, begin shouting,
“Au secours! (o skoor).

The problem with the Seine River is that in many places the walls rise directly upward – and there’s no place to climb out. However, if the river is running high, you’ll note (in this photo that we took this past February) that the water level under the Pont Neuf Bridge is almost level with the walkway on the Left Bank quai. This is also close to where the Water Patrol or Brigade Fluviale has one of its posts.


During my last trip to London, I noticed that life preservers are posted at various intervals along the Thames River. It seems like like Paris would want to insure the same safety measures for its citizens and visitors. While we walked along the Seine, we noticed a policeman patrolling on bicycle. The Fluvial Brigade has eight boats at its disposal and its members are certified lifesavers, trained in the recovery of drowning victims, none of this helped save super model Katoucha Niane who was last seen by her friends at the end of a late night party.

In the winter months, there is much less pedestrian traffic along the riverbanks.
If readers have any other suggestions for ways to get out of the Seine River once you fall in, please share them with us!

How does the Seine River rate in safety for swimmers compared to other rivers in major cities? Just to give you an example of the safety level between the Seine and some other river cities, compare Frankfurt. In Frankfurt, kids still swim across the Mainz River from shore to shore (much to the dismay of their parents). In Varanasi, India, a group of swimmers crosses the Ganges River to adjacent islands every day at sunrise.

Swimming in the Seine River (within the Paris city limits) is not possible. Paris Plage now includes a Seine River enclosed ‘pool’ but you must be far from the city limits before you’ll find a natural beach that would be considered safe for swimmers. (You can find some beaches in the department of Seine-Maritime in Normandy).

2 thoughts on “Seine River Safety Tips

  • Mary

    Never thought of “falling in” in the Seine, but, of course, that is always a possibility. Reminds me of an old romantic movie with Katharine Hepburn that took place in Venice. At one point, her Italian beau steps backwards and falls into the canal! Let’s just say, it wasn’t clean!

    If you’ll be walking along the Seine for extended periods of time, and sense it may beckon you, wear a life jacket and enjoy yourself. No worries!

  • Parisgirl Post author

    That may be the next fashion statement for Paris Plage. I took another look at the Seine today between around Pont St. Michel. It’s true that you would have to be in pretty good physical condition to figure a way out of the river if you did fall in. If you head toward Notre Dame, you’ll note that there are some ladders on both sides of this branch of the Seine (between Ile de la Cite and the Left Bank). There are also some rings probably for boats to tie up to the walls but the rings may be too high to reach for someone actually in the water. In the winter the Seine’s current is pretty strong. in some places (including Pont St. Michel, there are steps that go down to the water’s edge, but still it would be hard to get out. Nevertheless, the Seine is beautiful at all times of the year. I’ve never seriously considered falling in to be an issue (for people who are sensibly aware of their surroundings) Just don’t drink too much champagne!!

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