Pont Neuf, Paris!

Ok so here I am inspire again on writing about the different spots around my eternal Paris. The whole world comes to Paris , yes it is nice, I just wish they see my belle France. As said, Hemingway wrote the Movable Feast printed posthume, if he had traveled more he would have written a second volume, France is a movable feast!

Having said that, let me tell you about some of the bridges of Paris, sublime, beautiful, architecturally stunning and full of wonderful history. And why not start with the Pont Neuf!

The Pont Neuf is despite its name, the oldest existing bridge in Paris. It crosses the Seine at the western tip of the Ile de la Cité. Built at the end of the 16C and finished at the beginning of the 17C, it owes its name to the novelty that constituted at the time a bridge devoid of dwellings and provided with sidewalks protecting pedestrians from mud and horses. It is also the very first stone bridge in Paris to cross the Seine entirely. This site is served by the Pont Neuf metro line 7 station.

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It is, after the pont aval and the pont amont of the périphérique, the third longest bridge in Paris at 238 meters. On March 16, 1578, construction was authorized by letters patent from the king, who laid the foundation stone for the work on May 31, following in the presence of Queen Mother Catherine de Médicis and Queen Louise of Lorraine-Vaudémont. Its construction will continue until 1607, under the reign of Henry IV.  It is also the first bridge in Paris to no longer be covered. Like most bridges built at the time, the Pont Neuf consists of a series of short arches. When work resumed interrupted for ten years , Henri IV opted for a bridge without houses, but the cellars already built remained. An underground connected them. They were later transformed into lower rooms. In the cellars are erected small buildings housing shops. Second hand booksellers or bouquinistes also compete with bookstores in the area, so that in 1619 the latter obtained a ban on the presence of this commercial competition on the Pont Neuf, something reaffirmed by a royal ordinance in 1742.

In 1702, the bridge, which is part of the Cité neighborhood, had 22 buildings and 20 lanterns. It begins at Quai des Augustins, opposite Place Dauphine and ends at the corners of the quai de la Vieille-Vallée-de-Misère and quai de l’École opposite the carrefour des Trois-Maries. In the 19C, cellars were removed from their buildings and the old cellars were blocked. The last shop did not disappear until around 1854.

On August 23, 1614, four years after the assassination of the king, the equestrian statue of Henri IV ordered by Marie de Médicis to be placed on the median of the Ile de la Cité, between the two abutments of the bridge, is inaugurated. It will be melted together with the two bas-reliefs on the side faces to make cannons in 1792 during the French revolution and of which fragments of the horse as well as the four statues decorating the angles, of slaves or defeated nations are kept in the Louvre museum. Under the Restoration, following a subscription launched by king Louis XVIII, it was replaced by a new equestrian statue of Henri IV, inspired by the original. This statue was inaugurated in 1818.

In addition, on January 2, 1602, the king authorized the construction of a large water pump to the right of the second arch from the right bank downstream side: the Samaritaine pump, which later gave its name to the department store of La Samaritaine  (see post) which was built not far from there. The pump was destroyed in 1813. Nothing remains of it, except one of the bells, transferred to the Saint-Eustache Church (see post).   In the first quarter of 2007, the City of Paris completed its complete restoration, with the last arch and its macaroons, on the right bank side and on the left bank.  The masonry bridge measures 238 meters, width is 20.50 meters with the road measuring 11.50 meters, and the two sidewalks, 4.50 meters each. The large arm has seven opening arches, between 16.40 meters and 19.40 meters and it measures 154 meters long. The small arm has five opening arches, between 9 and 16.70 meters . It measures 78 meters long. Along its cornices, 385 mascarons or grotesque masks representing heads of forest or country deities from Greco-Roman mythology are carved.

More of this wonderful Pont Neuf can be seen at the Carnavalet museum of Paris which preserves many paintings from all eras representing the Pont Neuf. The most interesting is an anonymous canvas from the second half of the 16C, which is inspired by the drawing approved by Henri III in 1577 and shows a much richer decoration than that which was ultimately made, with triumphal arches, obelisks. and a central pavilion. Other great paintings of it that I like are the ones by Auguste Renoir, Le Pont-Neuf ,1872, oil on canvas now at the National Gallery of Art Washington DC USA, and Camille Pissaro, Le Pont-Neuf ,1901, oil on canvas, now at the   Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio USA; and by Albert Lebourg, Le Pont-Neuf, 1906, oil on canvas,at the Petit Palais in Paris. Films not many but I like the 1991, » Les Amants du Pont-Neuf” by Léos Carax. On January 1, 2002, the Pont Neuf was chosen to symbolize the changeover to the new European currency during the changeover ceremony. The Minister of the Economy at the time, Laurent Fabius, would have chosen it for its solidity and its 12 arches which symbolized the 12 countries of the euro zone in 2002.

The Paris tourist office on the Pont Neuf in English: Paris tourist office on the Pont Neuf

And there you go folks, another dandy in my beautiful Paris, once bitten, the virus of love stays with you. Hope you enjoy the post on the Pont Neuf of Paris!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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