Monday, April 2, 2012

B = Bridges of Paris - A to Z Blog Challenge

Seine River Bridges at Dusk from Eiffel Tower - by DG Hudson

Bridges in Paris cross the Seine River some 37 times if you count pedestrian, rail and auto traffic bridges. Each is unique in design, size, and age, but all connect the two sides of Paris, the Right and Left Banks of the river.  A few connect the two main islands in the Seine, the Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis and one or two have rail lines. 

Paris bridges seem to draw visitors to the Seine River, especially the Pont Neuf, the Pont D’Iena and the Pont Alexander III.   (A pont = bridge)

Grotesques line the overhang on the Pont Neuf, Paris  - by DG Hudson

Pont Neuf

It was the New Bridge when it was built in 1607.  Now, it's the oldest bridge.  It was the first stone bridge in Paris that did not support houses in addition to a thoroughfare, and it had curved bastions* so pedestrians could step aside to let a carriage pass. The decision not to include houses on the bridge can be traced back directly to Henry IV, who didn't want to impede his view of the Louvre. The bridge connects the left bank with the right bank over the western tip of the Île de la Cité.

*Bastions on the bridge deck are the curved places shown above. You can just see the small grotesques lining the edge.

Detail on Pont Alexander III - Paris, by DG Hudson

Pont Alexandre III

The most sumptuous bridge of Paris opened just in time for the Universal Exposition of 1900. It is named after Tsar Alexander III of Russia. The bridge is decorated with lampposts and sculptures of cherubs and nymphs. Tall pillars on either side of the bridge are topped with large gilded statues.

Under the Eiffel, Pont D'Iena, Paris - by DG Hudson

Pont d'Iéna

This bridge which leads from the Trocadéro to the Eiffel Tower, was built between 1808 and 1814. It was named after the German city of Jena (Iéna in French) where Napoléon had defeated the Prussian army in 1806.


A few other notables:

Pont Notre Dame

In Roman times, this was known as the Grand Pont (large bridge) and connected the Ile de la Cite' with the Right bank. The current bridge was originally built in 1853 with five small spans, but had to be redesigned in 1919 after many accidents. At that time, the middle three spans were replaced by a single span.

Pont Marie

Pont Marie, the next oldest bridge in Paris after the Pont Neuf, was built between 1614 and 1635.  The Pont Marie connects the Île St. Louis with the right bank of the Seine River.

Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir

A recently completed pedestrian bridge, the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir leads from the Bibliotheque Nationale towards the Bercy Park.  Named after Simone de Beauvoir, a famous French author, philosopher, feminist, and companion of Jean-Paul Sartre.


This post shows a token number of the bridges that cross the Seine River in Paris.  I've included links for those that might want to know more.


DG's A to Z Challenge Theme:  Paris, Etc.   (Art, Film, People and Places)


References:  Paris Bridges   List of bridges in Paris  Seine River  Seine River


Is there any special type of bridge that you like? (old wooden, wrought iron, suspension/cable design, or stone old-style)

Any writing memories associated with bridges?  Please share in the comments. 



  1. Hi DL .. love the fact about Henry IV wanting to see the Louvre - you sort of think it’d be common sense that would have made people realise that houses on bridges weren’t so sensible – but no the royal king’s view was the reason.

    Love these ... especially that detail on Pont Alexandre III; I must look at the Passerelle – sounds fascinating ..

    Love bridges – for family reasons ... the new French suspension bridge – not even sure where it is .. if you know what I’m talking about .. and I guess all stone bridges, but fascinating facts as you’ve given us here ..

    PS rescued your comment from my Spam - such is Blogger life!!

    Cheers – great post – love it .. thanks Hilary

  2. What a great article. I'm doing research for Paris for a story I'm writing. I'll have to include the Pont Neuf.

  3. Hi, Fascinating and beautiful! Did you ever walk across a swinging rope bridge over a rapid river? It is scary! Especially so, if you can't swim.
    Thanks for the pics and accompanying stories.

  4. Cool post. I've only set foot in France twice, and each time was to change planes at Charles de Gaulle. I saw the Eiffel Tower during the descent one time, but it was way off in the distance.

    I like bridges that are either very high or very long. My first novel had a critical scene on a bridge, where a revenge for murder is achieved by weakening a support on the railing so someone falls into a swollen river. I'm not sure it that scene will survive the re-write when that book comes back around, though.

  5. The French do love their bridges. Interesting post.

    Visited you as part of the AZ Challenge. Now following,
    Moody Writing

  6. Thanks for stopping by and Happy 'B' day:

    Anne - The Pont Neuf is a great setting for a scene, day or night. I've left links and history hoping the subject would pique someone's interest.

    Tonja - Thanks, and come back for more photos, You'll see lots of that on this blog.

    Grammy - the only rope style bridge I've been on is one in North Vancouver BC (Capilano Suspension bridge), but it's not scary since it's not like the Indiana Jones ones, but it does swing as you walk across. . .

    Rick - thanks for stopping by! We flew into CDG as well, nice airport, nice staff. I like the bit you mentioned about weakening the bridge rails; that's a great idea for a suspense scene(how do you do that if they're not wooden?)

    Mooderino - Thanks for stopping by and for following. I like their bridges too. It's because they're small and intimate and can be walked over.

  7. I just watched Midnight in Paris and loved the thoughts about the city. I've never visited Paris. The bridges in London fascinated me. I wish you had the subscribe by email option on your blog. I signed up with Google, but posts sometimes get lost for me.

  8. I love those old arching bridges. They're just beautiful.

  9. These are so lovely looking. They look like the sort of bridges where things happen--first meetings and reunions and fights. It would be wonderful to spend a day on any one of them, just looking out over the surrounding areas.

  10. Ho D.G., first time visitor and great to meet you! Thanks for the pics. I've never been to Europe and have to visit there through blogs like yours.

  11. It would be so easy to spend my entire A to Z alloted time on this blog. The beauty of these structures is indeed in the details. Theme: A World of Crime

  12. Bridges! I love bridges! And Paris has beautiful bridges. Fun choice for today! Nice to meet you! I am officially follower 100! Whoo-hoo!

  13. Stacy - thanks for following and welcome. Midnight in Paris is great. I like the Hemingway scenes.

    M Pax - I do too. Also, liked the streetlights.

    Joyce - we loved watching the river traffic from the bridges.

    Alex - Over 400 years, the Pont Neuf has been around. Horse and carriage days.

    Stephen - Welcome and thanks for following, I've seen your blog via some of your blogger buddies

    Gail - I hope you do come back and read all those Paris Posts. Lots of photos are included.

    Leigh - Welcome and thanks for being my 100th follower! I'll be by for a visit, at your blog.

  14. In Tokyo, Japan, we did a ferry boat ride tour of historic bridges. History written in bridges, bridging the past to today (forgive the pun). It is a cool way to study a place. Great post, D.G.!


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