My good friend Caroline was devastated when the “love locks” were removed from the 19th century Pont des Arts.  She had placed the token of her great love for Ross Turnbull on the bridge, the only time they managed to be in Paris together, and it meant the world to her, as it did for many other visitors to the city of light who left their symbol of love behind, locked to the railings.  But this pedestrian bridge spanning the Seine between the Louvre and the Institut de France just got too heavy and was in danger of collapsing, so in 2010 the 42 tonnes of padlocks were removed, and sadly replaced with “padlock-themed graffiti”.  Not to be deterred, lovers have started to hang “love locks” on the Pont de l’Archeveche, the narrowest road bridge in Paris.  Caroline’s love for Ross certainly continues.

Pont Alexandre III

Like many other cities in France, Paris grew along the banks of a river and if you look at any aerial picture of the city, you can see that there are many bridges over the Seine.  In fact there are 37. Images of these bridges are almost as iconic as images of the Eiffel Tower, making Paris instantly identifiable, each with its own unique stories.

  • The 17th century Pont Neuf, (between the western tip of the Ile de la Cite and rest of Paris) although translated as “new bridge” is actually the oldest in Paris – Henri III started building it in 1578.

  • The 17th century Pont au Double must have the quirkiest name – named for the toll amount (a double denier) charged to pay for the bridge used to carry patients from the Hotel-Dieu on the Ile de la Cite over the Seine. 

  • The 18th century Pont de la Concourse (made of stones from the Bastille) connects two of the most important events in France’s history – the Place de la Concourse (where King Louis XVI lost his head) and the French Senate building where the new Republic began.

  • The 19th century Pont Alexandre III is the most ornate, extravagant bridge in the city, with its Beaux-Arts style, exuberant Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses at either end. 

  • The 19th century Pont au Change, although named after the moneylenders who settled on it in the 12th century, is remembered most because this is where Victor Hugo’s Police Inspector Javert (with a guilty conscience after Jean Valjean saved his life) throws himself in to the Seine. 

  • Also forever to be remembered in celluloid, thanks to the film “Inception”, the 20th century double decker Pont de Bir Hakeimwith pedestrian access to the Ile aux Cygnes and views of the Statue of Liberty.

Taking a break on the Pont Neuf
Some historians say that the devilish faces on the Pont Neuf are caricatures of men that Henri XIV Cuckolded.

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