Seine Bridges, Paris
The Seine bridges were scheduled by UNESCO in 1991 as international cultural monuments. Most of them are to be the subject of extensive restoration work by the end of the millennium.Within the city of Paris the Seine is spanned by 36 bridges, 13 of them in the central area providing links to and between the Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint-Louis. These are the city's oldest bridges; those farther upstream or downstream mostly date from the 19th century. The bridges of medieval Paris served as promenades and meeting-places where people could gossip and do business. They were lined with shops, with the owners' living quarters above them. Then in modern times, when the bridges became important as traffic arteries, the old shops and houses were swept away.The city's latest (36th) bridge, recently opened, is the Pont Charles-de-Gaulle, which links the rapidly developing 12th and 13th arrondissements in eastern Paris.
Seine - Art Bridge
Seine - Pont Neuf
A favorite catch question on the history of Paris is "Which is the city's oldest bridge?" The answer is the "New Bridge" - the Pont Neuf, which was built between 1578 and 1607 (restored in the 19th century). It is one of the handsomest of the Seine bridges and also the longest (330m/360yds), spanning both arms of the river at the western tip of the Ile de la Cité. (The Square du Vert-Galant was built up later).The Pont Neuf was equipped from the outset with the attributes of a modern bridge, a carriageway for traffic and pavements for pedestrians.In 1985 the "packaging" artist Christo shrouded the 12 arches of the bridge for two weeks in 40,000sq.m/48,000sq.yd of champagne- colored material, converting it into a work of "sculpture".
Seine - Marie Bridge
The five-arched Pont Marie runs from the Ile Saint-Louis to the right bank of the Seine. Built in 1614-35 on the orders of Louis XIII, it bears the name of its architect, Christophe Marie. Part of the bridge collapsed during a catastrophic flood in 1658 and 121 people lost their lives. In 1740, when there was another severe flood, all those living in the houses which lined the bridge were safely evacuated. In the following year a decree was issued that no more houses should be built on the bridge, and the remaining houses were gradually demolished. In the 19th century the "hump" of the bridge was levelled out to ease the passage of traffic.
Seine - Pont au Change
Two 14th century wooden bridges, the Pont aux Changeurs and the Pont Marchand, linking the Châtelet and the Conciergerie were replaced in the reign of Louis XIII by the Pont au Change, and the occupants of the old bridges (merchants, hawkers, dealers, money-changers) moved to the new one. During the Revolution the tumbrils carrying those condemned to death crossed the Pont au Change on their way to the guillotine in Place de la Concorde.
Seine - Royal Bridge
After a number of unsuccessful attempts to build a flood-resistant bridge downstream from the Ile de la Cité, opposite the Tuileries, the public exchequer was exhausted, and when the bridge was finally built (by Jules Hardouin- Mansart, 1685-89) it was paid for by Louis XIV from his private purse: hence its name, the "Royal Bridge". Its "hump" was removed in 1850.