Bridges have played a major role in revolutionizing modern society. In Paris, perhaps the best way to discover the history and the charm of the city is to explore the banks of the Seine and connecting canals.
Among the 37 bridges of the Seine, Pont Neuf holds the most diverse history of memories. The construction of Paris’ oldest bridge began in 1577 under the Reign of Henry III. Pont Neuf was completed under the Reign of Henry IV in 1606. It was the first stone bridge in Paris that did support houses, as Henry IV insisted that it would impede the clear vue of the Louvre.
16 bridges stretch across the canal network, most of which are pedestrian footways and road bridges. Many of the road bridges can be turned to make way for canal traffic coming through. The 7 functioning locks and intimate landscape keep the canal a top destination for tourists and Parisians alike.
Innovation is leading the way for a new project on the banks of La Rive Gauche. Starting along the banks next to the Musée d’Orsay, this proposed “floating garden” will be situated among 5 mini islands. It will not only be a unique pedestrian, activity space hung above the water, it will also reinforce natural, urban biodiversity and vegetation. Since October 2012, access to the lower riverbanks at Concorde and Invalides will remain closed, making the ramp at Musee d’Orsay the only means of entrance to the walkways until the project is complete this Spring 2013.
Visitors, passersby and lovers alike have and forever will drawn with a fascination to these structures whether they be meager wooden walkways or glorious ancient arches. The magic can only be experienced and is impossible to define. Always, always take the bridge.
“Everywhere there is something to overcome or to bridge: disorder, death, meaninglessness. Everything is a transition, a bridge whose ends are lost in infinity, beside which all the bridges of this earth are only children’s toys, pale symbols. And all our hope lies on the other side.”
Ivo Andrić, The Bridges (Short Story), 1963