|The Seine at Bougival in the Evening|
Cleopatra had her Nile. Caesar had his Tiber. Mark Twain had the Mississippi River and Lewis and Clark had the Missouri. The Queen has the Thames. And author Mort Rosenblum has the Seine.
In The Secret Life of the Seine (1994) Mr. Rosenblum, an American journalist living in Paris, tells tales of living on and exploring this river after he bought and moved onto La Vieille, a fifty-four-foot-long, thirteen-foot-wide boat.
It was not something he would normally have aspired to, he writes, but circumstances aligned themselves. He was forced to move from his apartment on the Ile Saint-Louis and at the same time a co-worker, who owned and lived on the boat, was moving to England and had to sell it.
This was in 1987 and already the La Vieille was almost 100 years old. She had served in the British Royal Navy at the turn of the century and after World War II was turned into a motor yacht.
I have only dipped into the first 25 pages of the book, but already am looking forward to Mr. Rosenblum's journey from the Seine's source near Dijon to where it merges with the English Channel at Honfleur. All 482 miles of it.
Having only experienced the river from the quais in Paris and its final destination in Honfleur, I am excited to learn about its wending course through France.
From the beginning, the French soul has bobbed in the waters of the Seine. On its bridges, love blooms; beneath them, lives end. Hardly anyone can tell you exactly where the river starts, or much else about it, but it flows through every romantic's spirit. It nourished Maupassant's pen and watered Monet's lily pond.
Paris was the City of Light long before there were switches to flip. The rayonnement, that radiance which the French have always beamed to the less enlightened, emanates from the pinks and oranges and sparkling flashes of the sun sinking into the Seine.
People who live in towns or cities on a river are lucky indeed. It gives them an ever-changing scene. My river is the Ohio. What's yours?