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The last time I saw Paris, I was in a particular frame of mind. After travelling two months in Europe, I had a friend's apartment near the Eiffel Tower to myself for the last two weeks of my trip. I don't think I ever explored Paris so closely and lovingly before and I found myself connected to it. Every moment was a sort of sentimental journey, it felt good to be there.
Paris is such a rich city! For me, it's always filled with special moments to remember fondly... One day, I reached the Pont-Neuf from Les Invalides, after a long walk around rue de Babylone, an area in the 7th Arrondissement I had never lingered in before. I was seeing everything with new eyes, paying more attention. The minute I got on the bridge, I was overwhelmed by the scene around me: first the wonderful feeling of being on the Seine, "the most beautiful street in Paris". Looming ahead was the great Samaritaine store, like a boat gone aground... I leaned on the parapet and had the Square du Vert-Galant at my feet, the Pont des Arts just beyond -- a perfectly beautiful way to the Institut de France, whose great cupola is a landmark along Quai de Conti.
Everything was quiet on the Pont-Neuf. Hardly any cars, a few cyclists, some shoppers and suddenly, this little person in front of me, walking quickly & with great determination, carrying her bags. I hesitated to take a pic but finally did it and glad I did. It's the kind of picture that transports me back to that moment when I was surrounded by fantastic sensations.
The Pont-Neuf has a great history and means a lot to Paris lovers. It was wrapped up by Christo in 1985 and remains a favourite of Parisians. Large pavements (the first in Paris) protect pedestrians from traffic so you can walk slowly and bask in the atmosphere. The setting is quite romantic.
Address: Across the Île de la Cité
- Historical Travel
The Pont Neuf (“New Bridge”) is a very solid and sturdy stone bridge which has withstood all the floods and high waters since 1607 without sustaining any serious damage. For this reason there is an expression in French “se porter comme le Pont Neuf”, which means that a person (usually an older person) is strong and in excellent health.
One reason the Pont Neuf has lasted so long is that they never built any houses on it. This was a sensation at the time, since before then all the bridges had houses on them – often very heavy houses that put stress on the bridge structure.
Another innovation at the time was that the Pont Neuf was the first street in Paris to have sidewalks. Before then, there was no safe place for pedestrians to walk, except an occasional rock at the side of the street where people could take refuge when a fast horse or horse-drawn carriage came along.
By now the Pont Neuf (“New Bridge”) is the oldest bridge in Paris, but of course it was new at the time.
If for some reason you want to count the number of bridges over the Seine in Paris, the Pont Neuf becomes a problem: do you count it as one bridge or two? Today it looks like two bridges with an island in between, but when the bridge was built the island was shorter. The bridge-builders lengthened the island by joining it up with some smaller islands, so they considered their extension of the island to be part of the bridge. And to this day both bridges share the same name, Pont Neuf.
You have the same problem with the Pont du Sully, at the upstream end of Île Saint-Louis. Again, there are two bridges with part of an island in between, but both bridges share the same name and were built together as part of the same project.
And what about Pont Saint Louis, which does not go all the way across the Seine, but just connects two islands?
Depending on what you count as what, there are 40, 41 or 42 bridges over the Seine in Paris. This includes the two ugly motorway bridges at the upper and lower ends of the city, since both of these are within the city limits.
Five (or six) of these bridges are particularly pleasant because they are free of motor traffic. These are:
• the new Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, which connects the new National Library François Mitterrand with the new Parc du Bercy;
• the Pont Saint Louis (if you count it), connecting the Île Saint Louis with the Île de la Cité;
• the Pont au Double, connecting the left bank with the Cathedral Notre-Dame;
• the Pont des Arts, connecting the Louvre with the Institut de France;
• the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor footbridge, formerly Passerelle Solférino, connecting the Tuilerie Gardens with the Musèe d'Orsay;
• and the Passerelle Debilly, which leads to the Musée du quai Branly.
In some places you might read that there are only 37 bridges across the Seine in Paris, because in French they make a distinction between a pont (a bridge for cars) and a passerelle (a footbridge).
Third and fourth photos: These show the Pont Neuf and the nearby Samarataine bath house during the high water in the year 1910. I found these historic photos on an outdoor mural on the Rue de Rivoli, advertising the new Samaritaine.
Fifth photo: Vélib’ station 1001 is on the island Île de la Cité (Quai de l’Horloge) in the middle of the Pont Neuf.
Next review from July 2012: Wallace Fountain on Quai des Grands Augustins
Location on the Vélib' map
Métro Pont Neuf, line 7
- Historical Travel
The Pont Neuf along with Pont Alexandre III, are known as "most beautiful Bridges in Paris."
In 1578, there were only 2 Bridges across the Seine, so Pont Neuf was built. It's the oldest surviving bridge in Paris, and still carries the name it was given at the time, to distinguish it from older bridges that were lined on both sides with houses.
Back then, the Pont Neuf was classified as a very modern Bridge. The bridge has a total of 12 arches, which I think make it attractive, more so if you are there when the water is calm and you have full reflections of the Arches.
Years ago, pedestrians would step aside into its bastions to let a bulky carriage pass, now there are seats in each one, quite a nice place to sit and enjoy the traffic along the River Seine.
Directions: quai de la Megisserie
quai des Grands Augustins
- Historical Travel
I have walked across Pont Neuf many times. I have sat across at a cafe and watched the river flow around the stone arches. Not bad considering I have only been to Paris five times. Considered my some to mark the end of the middle ages, and also the first modern bridge over the Seine. Graceful arches, solid stone work. The first stone was laid 1578, and it was christened in 1608.
Directions: Blvd St. Michel and the Seine River
- Arts and Culture
The oldest bridge - Pontus Nuef means "the new bridge". It was constructed in 1607. "New" to those times there was its design with two enormous arches. The fine panorama on Seine opens here, therefore the bridge became as though a balcony thrown through the river.
You can watch my 7 min 05 sec Video Paris Along the Siene by boat out of my Youtube channel.
You can also watch my 2 min 56 sec Video Paris Siene out of my Youtube channel.
- Historical Travel
“On a le bras armé et le cul sur la selle” (“Weapon in hand and ass in the saddle”)
— Henri IV (1553-1610) offers his blunt assertion about how he would rule
BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN Marie de’Medici wished to honor the memory of her assassinated husband, Henri IV. The result, the equestrian bronze at the midpoint of le Pont Neuf, has a curious history.
Le Pont Neuf was begun in 1578 during the reign of Henry III, and it was finished in 1604, in the 15th year of the reign of Henry IV. It is made up of two unequal parts, which meet at the eastern end of Ile de la Cité. At the point where these two parts meet, on Esplanade, an equestrian bronze of Henry IV was dedicated in 1635.
Ferdinando I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, commissioned a bronze horse from Jean de Boulogne, a pupil of Michelangelo. The figure of the duke was meant to be placed on the horse, but he died before it could be cast; and the steed was left riderless. The duke’s successor, Cosmo II, offered the horse to his cousin Marie for her husband’s memorial.
The ship that carried the bronze horse from Italy to Paris sank off the coast of Normandy. Four years passed before it was finally fished out, brought into the port of Le Havre, and sent up the Seine to Paris in 1614. A pedestal was built and the horse was placed upon it. Another 21 years passed before Louis XIII, son of Henri and Marie, sat a likeness of his father on the horse’s back.
It stood until 1792 when those misguided French Revolutionaries pulled it down, to melt it down. When the Bourbon monarchy was restored in 1814, replicas of the horse and its rider were ordered. The finished produce was returned to the bridge that Henri IV galloped across on his charger in 1605, when le Pont Neuf was finished.
Address: Western Tip of Ile de la Cité
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
It's funny to know that the Pont Neuf, French for the "New Bridge," is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris. Its name like that to distinguished it from the old bridges that were built in wood. The bridge is actually composed of two separate spans, one of five arches joining the left bank to the Île de la Cité, another of seven joining the island to the right bank In 1577, the decision to build the bridge was made by King Henri III who laid its first stone in 1578, and the bridge was completed under the reign of Henri IV, who inaugurated it in 1607. It was the widest bridge in town and the first one with separate sidewalks for pedestrians. It has "balcons" over each pier where shops where installed.
Es simpático saber que el Pont Neuf, el "Puente Nuevo" es el puente más antiguo de París que se conserva en pie. Se llama así para distinguirlo de los antiguos puentes del Sena, construidos todos en madera.En realidad el puente consta de dos partes separadas, una con 5 arcos uniendo la Île de la Cité con la orilla izquierda y otra con siete arcos hacia la orilla derecha. El Rey Enrique III tomó la decisión de construir el puente en 1577, poniendo la primera piedra en 1578, aunque el puente no fue completado hasta el mandato del Rey Enrique IV que lo inauguró en 1607. Fue el puente más ancho de la ciudad y el primero con aceras separadas para peatones. Tiene "balcones" sobre cada pilar, donde se instalaron tiendas.
Crossing the Pont Neuf (New Bridge) from Place Dauphane you'll arrive to the Henry IV bronze equestrian statue, commanded by Marie de Médicis, Henri’s widow and Regent of France, in 1614. This satatue was destroyed in 1792 during the French Revolution, but was rebuilt in 1818, following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. As a curiosity, I read thar inside the statue, the new sculptor put four boxes, containing a history of the life of Henri IV, a 17th-century parchment certifying the original statue, a document describing how the new statue was commissioned, and a list of people who contributed to a public subscription.
Cruzando el Pont Neuf (Puente Nuevo) desde la Place Dauphane llegarás a la estatua ecuestre de bronce de Enrique IV, encargada por María de Médicis, viudad de Enrique y Regente de Francia en 1614. Esta estatua fue destruida en 1792 durante la Revolución francesa y fue reconstruida en 1818, siguiendo la restauración monárquica de la disnatía Borbón. Como curiosidad, leí que el nuevo escultor introdujo cuatro cajas dentro de la estatua conteniendo: la historia de la vida de Enrique IV, pergamino del siglo XVII que certificaba la estatua original, documento describiendo cómo se encargo la nueva estatua y lista de personas que contribuyeron a la suscripción pública.
Directions: In the middle of Pont Neuf
The Pont Neuf is my favorite bridge over the Seine. Its not the most attractive bride in Paris, but it captures my imagination and fascinates me. Part of that fascination is because of the French movie Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (The Lovers on the Bridge is the English title). The movie stars my favorite French actress Juliette Binoche. Much of the action in the movie takes place in and around the Pont Neuf. On my first trip to Paris the bridge was closed for repairs. It was during this time that the movie was filmed. When I returned home and found the movie several years later I was fascinated. So when I returned in 2008 I not only wanted to see this bridge but I wanted to walk and take pictures on the spots I had seen in the movie.
Historically the Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris. The first stone was laid in 1578 by King Henry III. It was completed in 1607. If you are interested in history, or are just a film buff and Julette Binoche fan a walk across this bridge is a must.
The oldest bridge in Paris. Started in 1578 and completed in 1607 when the king formalised the bridges commencement by crossing it on a white stallion (thus the [equestrian] statue of Henri IV).
The arches are decorated with dentists, pickpockets, loiterers etc...
Lovely views - best trodden in the early morning when the city is just waking.
- Historical Travel
Pont Neuf, which means "new bridge" is the oldest and most famous bridge in Paris. It was completed in 1604. It is amazing to consider it's age and the numbers of people it has safely delivered from one side to the next. (Why can't Americans build stuff to last like this?)
Obviously since Paris is divided in half by the River Seine, there are tons of bridges that connect the two halves of the city. There are many more to see which can be enjoyed by river cruise or by a very long walking tour along the banks of the Seine.
The Pont Neuf was commissioned by Henry III in 1576.
Despite its name, which translates as New Bridge, it is now the oldest bridge in Paris.
Henry III was in tears when he laid the foundation stone for the bridge in May 1578.
This was because he had just returned from funeral services for two close friends who had been killed in duels. So, at first, the bridge was refered to as the "Bridge of Tears".
This was soon replaced with the name Pont Neuf because in its construction, Henry broke with tradition whereby all Parisian bridges had houses on them from one end to the other. No houses were to be built on this bridge.
Before the construction was finished Henry III was assassinated and the bridge was completed in 1604 by his successor Henry IV.
When Henry IV was assassinated in 1610 the Grand Duke of Tuscany presented his widow, Marie de Medicis, with a bronze horse as a memorial. The boat that transported the horse to France sank off the coast of Sardinia in 1613 and the horse went down with the ship. A year later it would be found and set on to Paris. It would be placed on the Pont Neuf rider-less for twenty-one years.
In 1635 Louis XIII had a statue make of his father Henry IV and placed him on the horse. This it would sit for the next 157 years.
In 1792, in the third year of the French Revolution, the Paris mobs took down the horse and the riding king. They smashed them both to bits. Most would go off to be melted down while the rest went into the Seine.
The Pont Neuf would remain without a statue until the return of the monarchy in 1814.
Louis XVIII then ordered a replica of the horse and Henry IV cast in bronze, using part of the melted down statue of Napoléon that had been on top of the Vendome column.
The caster was happy for the work, but also was a Bonapartist.
He is said to have placed a small statue of Napoléon in the right arm of Henry IV's right arm. In the belly of the horse he placed papers containing songs and celebrations from the Napoléonic era.
Directions: Connects the streets of Rue Dauphine and Rue du Pont-Neuf, cutting across Ile de la Cite where Ste. Chapelle and Notre Dame are located.
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
- Historical Travel
The Pont-Neuf (New Bridge) is a rather misleading name given that it's the city's oldest surviving bridge. It was built in 1607 for Henri IV, constructed of stone with 12 arches, and links the western tip of the Ile de la Cite with both banks of the river. It was the first bridge in Paris not to have houses built on it, and to have a proper pavement - usually pedestrians were expected to share the mud-filled road with horse traffic. Henri is commemorated with an equestrian statue halfway across and also lends his nickname to the square du Vert-Galant (where these photos are taken from), enclosed within the triangular stern of the island, reached via steps leading down behind the statue. (Vert-Galant means a 'green' or lusty gentleman, and refers to his amorous exploits!)
Address: Ile de la Cite
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
This is the oldest bridge in Paris; work started on it in 1578 under Henry III, and it was finished in 1606 under Henry IV. From here, however, you look for a prospect of the Seine, and the bridge, with its two spans right at the centre, becomes an enormous balcony spread over the breadth of the river. The Parisians immediately understood the beauty and the importance of the bridge, and it became a meeting point and a place for a promenade
At the Westside of the Ile de la Cite (Island of the City) the oldest bridge of Paris is located: the Pont Neuf. This bridge was built between 1578 and 1604, so the whole of the bridge is over 400 years old!
The bridge connects both banks of the Seine river with eachother and with the Ile de la Cite, which made its appearance very important, especially in those days.
The Pont Neuf consists of 12 arches in two pieces: one part at the southside of the island and one part at the northside. The bridge has a total length of 238 metres, a width of 20 metres and was designed by five different architects.
The last years they are busy restauring the bridge, which is a huge effort. It already took three years to clean the southern part, now they are working on the northern part of the bridge.
Address: Metro - Pont Neuf
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