For a panoramic view of Paris, come stand on the pont des Arts. Also called “la passerelle des Arts,” (the footbridge of the arts) the bridge serves as a link between the Institute of France and the Louvre, with a breathtaking view of pont Neuf and Notre Dame Cathedral to the east and the Eiffel tower to the west.
Where the pont des Arts stands today, a nine arch footbridge was constructed between 1801 and 1804 under the orders of Napoleon I. Of English design, this was the first metal bridge in Paris. Engineers Louis-Alexandre de Cessart and Jacques Dillon intended for the bridge to resemble a garden with flower beds, trees and benches.
In 1976, the Bridge and Causeway Inspector noticed damage to the bridge caused by bombings from both world wars, as well as several boat crashes. The bridge was closed to circulation in 1977 and collapsed 60 meters after another boat collision.
The current pont des Arts was reconstructed between 1981 and 1984 in a manner identical to the original bridge, except for the reduction from nine to seven arches in order to align with pont Neuf. It was inaugurated in June 1984 by then mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac.
Currently, le pont des Arts is a popular hangout for photographers, painters and lovers due to its romantic cityscape. You will also notice thousands of cadenas d’amour, or lover’s padlocks attached across the span of the bridge’s railings. Couples from all over the world come to write their initials on a lock along with the year, attach it to the bridge and throw the key into the Seine.
Le pont des Arts has appeared in many famous films such as Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (or simply Amélie as it was released in the U.S.), The Bourne Identity, and the last episode of Sex and the City.
After you’ve finished admiring the scenery, walk south along the rue de Seine in the 6th arrondissement, passing art galleries and the former apartments of famous French people such as writer Georges Sand. At number 43 rue de Seine, stop in at La Palette, a 1930’s and 40’s style bistro for a drink or a bite to eat. Once frequented by the likes of Cézanne, Picasso, Hemmingway and Jim Morrison, the café is now frequented by local artists and students as well as celebrities such as Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts. Keep your eye out!
© 2012 Pasa’s Paris