Friday, 25 January 2013

Bridge Over The River Seine

First off, a quiz:

Do you know how many bridges cross the Seine in Paris? 

So you won’t think I’m cheating, I’m counting pedestrian bridges (3 of them – bonus points if you know where they are) and railway bridges (2 – more bonus points if you’ve been on them).  Have a little think.  Count them up, and I’ll tell you later.

The Pont Saint-Michel links the Place Saint-Michel on the Left Bank of Seine to the Île de la Cité. First constructed in 1378, it has been rebuilt several times, most recently in 1857.

Now here’s the part that gets me.  

As was common in the Middle Ages, the bridge's sides were quickly filled with houses.

That’s so cool!  Imagine living on a bridge!  Of course, there was a bit of a risk:

During the 1407–1408 winter, one of the longest and most severe known in the Middle Ages, ice carried by the frozen Seine hit the bridge, causing it to collapse, together with its houses. Due to France's difficulties in the Hundred Years' War, the bridge was immediately rebuilt in wood. (Wikipedia)

Do I need to tell you what happened next?  Apparently wood wasn’t such a good idea.

Still, it was the Middle Ages and they were doing their best.  (Montréal still has the problem of bridges falling down)!

And speaking of 1407........

Auberge Nicolas Flamel  is said to be the oldest stone house in Paris (1407).  Bet Nicolas was happy he didn’t build on the Pont Saint-Michel (he chose 51 rue de Montmorency in the Marais – it’s now a restaurant so you can visit if you like although I'm pretty sure they've modernized). 

If I could go back in time, this is what I’d want to see - the houses on the bridges and little winding streets that stayed in place until Haussmann revamped the city. Maybe I've read too much Victor Hugo.

So, did you have a little think about the bridges?

Answer to Quiz according to Wikipedia:  37

  1. Pont Amont (carrying the Boulevard Périphérique, situated at the river's entry to the city)
  2. Pont National
  3. Pont de Tolbiac
  4. Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir (pedestrian), inaugurated 13 July 2006
  5. Pont de Bercy (made up of a railway bridge carrying the Line 6 of the Paris Métro and another stage for road traffic) ;
  6. Pont Charles-de-Gaulle (1996)
  7. Viaduc d'Austerlitz (railway bridge used for Line 5 of the métro), directly followed on the Rive Droite by the viaduc du quai de la Rapée,
  8. Pont d'Austerlitz
  9. Pont de Sully (crosses the eastern corner of Île Saint-Louis)
  10. Pont de la Tournelle (between the Rive Gauche and the Île Saint-Louis)
  11. Pont Marie (between Île Saint-Louis and the rive droite)
  12. Pont Louis-Philippe (between Île Saint-Louis and the Rive Droite)
  13. Pont Saint-Louis (pedestrian zone, between Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis)
  14. Pont de l'Archevêché (between the Rive Gauche and Île de la Cité)
  15. Pont au Double (between the Rive Gauche and Île de la Cité)
  16. Pont d'Arcole (between Île de la Cité and the Rive Droite)
  17. Petit Pont (between the Rive Gauche and Île de la Cité)
  18. Pont Notre-Dame (between the Île de la Cité and the Rive Droite)
  19. Pont Saint-Michel (between the Rive Gauche and the Île de la Cité)
  20. Pont au Change (between the Île de la Cité and the Rive Droite)
  21. Pont Neuf (crossing the west corner of the Île de la Cité, Paris's oldest bridge, built between 1578 and 1607)
  22. Passerelle des Arts (pedestrian)
  23. Pont du Carrousel
  24. Pont Royal
  25. Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor (1999) (pedestrian, formerly the Passerelle de Solférino, renamed in 2006)
  26. Pont de la Concorde
  27. Pont Alexandre III
  28. Pont des Invalides
  29. Pont de l'Alma
  30. Passerelle Debilly (pedestrian)
  31. Pont d'Iéna
  32. Pont de Bir-Hakeim (crossing the Île aux Cygnes, comprising one stage with a railway bridge carrying Line 6 of the Paris Métro and another for road traffic)
  33. Pont Rouelle (rail viaduct for line C of the RER crossing the Île aux Cygnes)
  34. Pont de Grenelle (crossing the Île aux Cygnes)
  35. Pont Mirabeau
  36. Pont du Garigliano
  37. Pont aval (used by the boulevard périphérique, at the river's exit from the city)

If you were way off, don’t feel bad.  I had no idea.  I was thinking more in the 10 or 12 range.  Now I’m embarrassed.

Auberge Nicolas Flamel 51 Rue de Montmorency, 75003 Paris

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