Cultural walks in the shadows of the bridges of Paris

Outings | Nature | About art
les ponts de Paris
Do you want to visit Paris? Stay at
Hôtel d'Orsay
Hôtel d'Orsay de la collection Esprit de France

Have you pencilled-in the wharves along the Seine as part of your next visit to Paris?

Well, do it now because there’s just so much to do and see: care for a ride on the famous bateaux-mouches (river boats)? Fancy discovering the back streets of Paris by bike? Then rent one of the many Vélib bikes littered around the city. But there’s nothing like a romantic walk along the quays of the Rive Gauche; 2.3 km of walkways stretching from Pont De l’Alma to Musée d’Orsay. So here are just a few tips on some of the historical sites you’ll encounter along Paris’s famous bridges.

PONT D'IÉNA (JENA BRIDGE)
Built during the reign of Napoleon, it pays homage to his victory in Jena, Germany, in 1806. The four statues adorning both ends of the bridge represent warriors of different origins: Roman, Greek, Arab and Gallic.

PONT ALEXANDRE III (ALEXANDRE III BRIDGE)
This is by far the most iconic bridge in the capital. It is so lavishly ornate because it was inaugurated at the 1900 World Exposition to mark the event. The bridge is adorned with many statues, including the four imposing figures atop the plinths on either end (representing the arts, science, war and battle). Four more statues depict France at different moments of its history.

PONT ROYAL (ROYAL BRIDGE)
This bridge was built during the reign of Louis XIV in 1632. It is the third oldest bridge in Paris, after Pont Neuf and Pont Marie.

PONT DES ARTS (BRIDGE OF ARTS)
It owes its name to the two prestigious places that it links: the Louvre and the Institut de France (home of the five Academies of arts). It is famous for the numerous padlocks chained to its railings each year by passing lovers. In the past year, these “love locks”, as they are fondly called, have been banned and completely removed. 

PONT NEUF (NEW BRIDGE)
Inaugurated in 1607, ironically, it is the oldest bridge of Paris and the first made entirely of stone. It has withstood the many floods from the Seine. It was called Pont Neuf (new bridge) because it was the first bridge not to have houses on it, thus affording Parisians an undisturbed view of their Seine and its sidewalks.
Up until 1756 it was still inhabited and bustling with shops, just like other Parisian bridges. It was famous for the numerous booksellers along the bridge or even its traveling “dentists”.  


Practical information for the walks

Departure: Pont de l’Alma (subway: Alma-Marceau, line 9),
Arrival: Ile de la Cité (subway Cité, line 4).
Duration of walk: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Note: from Pont Royal, the itinerary is no longer a pedestrian-only zone.