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.