Who would imagine that in the past people could use fords to walk across the river at certain times! That was before the river was dredged to make it accessible to large vessels and allow them to sail up to Rouen.
Napoleon Bonaparte used to say: "Paris – Rouen – Le Havre, one single city with the Seine as its main road ". A road that gained recognition over time.
For centuries, the "bacs", river ferries have been a unique way of crossing the river. From the Tancarville Bridge to Rouen, they dot the meanders of the river Seine to the delight of all those who take it, whether every day or only from time to time. These charming, unusual crossings will reveal some of the Seine Valley's character.
The ferries cross at: Quillebeuf-sur-Seine / Port-Jérôme, Heurteauville / Yainville, Heurteauville / Jumièges, Yville-sur-Seine / Le Mesnil-sous-Jumièges, Berville-sur-Seine / Duclair, La Bouille / Sahurs, Petit-Couronne / Val-de-la-Haye, Le Grand-Quevilly / Dieppedalle.
Over the years and with technical advances, the ferries have ceased to be the only way of crossing the river Seine. The construction of great works of engineering has brought the two banks of the river and their inhabitants closer.
In 1957, the Tancarville Bridge paved the way. Then in 1973, the Brotonne Bridge provided a new passage between Caudebec-en-Caux and the forest of Brotonne. 1995 was the year the Normandy Bridge was inaugurated. At that time it was the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world, spanning the Seine estuary, connecting Le Havre to Honfleur, Seine-Maritime to Calvados, allowing the Upper and Lower Normandy to meet, the symbol and attraction of Normandy.
Since 2008, the Flaubert Bridge has changed the cityscape of Rouen. This bridge is an exceptional technical prowess, the span of the bridge lifts to allow the largest sailing ships to go through: two spans rise more than 50 metres (180 ft) high, thus providing an impressive and rare show.
Many river ferries have retired since then. It is actually funny to see former slipways here and there along the river Seine that have now fell into disuse.