Walk along the bridge at sunset, with the views of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, and that’s when you’ll fall for Paris
Pont Neuf spans the river Seine in Paris, and is the oldest standing bridge to do so. It has stood there since the start of the 17th century. It is constructed as a series of short arch bridges and that Roman-inspired design has stood the test of time.
Decorating the sides of the bridge are 381 stone masks, or mascarons, which depict the heads of various figures from ancient mythology, as well as satyrs and sylvains. When the bridge underwent reconstruction in the 19th century the mascarons were replaced with replicas, but they are nonetheless impressive for it.
Where the bridge crosses the Île de la Cité stands a bronze statue of King Henry IV, commissioned by his widow and Regent of France, Marie de Medici. Pont Neuf was one of his first projects when he took the throne after a period of war and uncertainty in France. He wanted to make a statement and literally get Paris moving again.
The king allegedly impressed workers when he visited the construction by leaping over the vast gaps between the pillars of the unfinished bridge. The statue was toppled during the French Revolution, but subsequently reformed using the melted bronze from statues of Louis Charles Antoine Desaix, a general for the French Republic, and of Napoleon. How’s that for symbolism.
The Heart of Paris
Historically, Ponte Neuf was considered the unlikely heart of Paris, somewhere you could see its the true character. Czar Peter the Great came to study French civilisation and declared that he found nothing more curious in Paris than the Ponte Neuf. It was full of vendors hawking oysters, cakes, oranges, coffee, dogs, wooden legs, glass eyes and false teeth. Singers would trill bawdy rhymes about the royal and the rich and sometimes end up in prison for their troubles. It’s a little less rowdy these days, but no less worth the visit.
Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.
Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.