The Source of the Seine was a sacred site in ancient times, and some would say it’s still sacred today, to the city of Paris, which owns and cares for it.
The springs the river flows from are found in a park-like valley, the main one issuing from a grotto, constructed by the Emperor Napoleon III. A statue of Sequana, goddess of healing and fertility watches over it. She was first worshipped here by the Celts, then Romanised and given a Latin backstory, which cast her as the daughter of Bacchus, turned into a river by her father to help her escape the unwanted attention of the god Neptune.
The site continued to be holy, even after the fall of Rome, and an Abbey, dedicated to St Seine, was established 10 km away. A new legend was told, about the spring issuing from a footprint of the saint’s donkey, and pilgrims visited it to attend mass right up until the 18th century.
The Musee Archeologique in Dijon houses ex voto statues found here, many of them pregnant women, couples, babies and body parts, as well as a foot high bronze statue of the goddess in a boat.
Access to the site, at Source-Seine in Burgundy, is free.