Pont Neuf

The New Bridge, or Pont Neuf in its native language, is a bridge that crosses the Seine in the city of Paris. It holds the record as being the oldest standing bridge in the city, built with a newer revolutionary design that would not include houses. It stretches across a length of 232 metres and has a measured width of 22 metres. The bridge is composed of 12 arches in total, 5 arches on the left bank and 7 on the right. Between these two is the Ile de la Cite, a natural island on the Seine that is home to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral.

The very first idea of creating the New Bridge came in the middle of the 16th century, when Henry II who reigned at the time was requested to have a new bridge constructed to ease the pressure of the Pont Notre Dame, the principal bridge at the time. Construction did not start until 27 years later, when his successor Henry III, oversaw the beginning of the construction. The piers were made longer with an initial thought of having houses built, but this was later opposed. Completion of the Pont Neuf was in 1607 when Henry IV inaugurated it officially. The Ile de la Cite was a very important island at the time, and the new bridge rapidly rose into fame. The exclusion of any building was thought to be wise, with the compelling reason of having an unobstructed view of the Louvre being the main one given against the construction of the houses.

Due to the creation of passenger paths on the bridge, Parisians quickly developed a liking for it, and chose it not only as a meeting place, but a lovely place to spend time on a late afternoon. With the popularity that it gathered, the bridge became burdened with traffic. Owing to the stresses it encountered, a renovation was carried out for 7 years, starting in 1848. The second one was completed in 2007, 19 years after it had been started.

Owing to the gravity attached to the symbolic equestrian statues, Marie de Medicis, the widow of Henry IV commissioned the construction of a bronze one to commemorate his husband. It was put up on a pedestal in 1618, but fell to a fate of destruction during the disturbances of the French Revolution. It was however replaced in 1818 and is still a standing structure in Ile de la Cite where the Pont Neuf’s arches adjoin to the island.

The Pont Neuf retains the glory it once had as one of the good places to spend time on. While it was initially a loveable monument at the time of its inauguration, it attracted the good and the bad, and its reputation quickly got tarnished following the unlawful activity. This was in the middle of the 18th century when the alluring atmosphere of Pont Neuf decreased and its attractiveness to the Parisians quickly faded. In this 21st century, the bridge does not stand in the shadow of its former self, as it provides scenic views of Paris, albeit not complete ones. One is able to enjoy the tranquillity of the Scene and get a distant unimpeded view of the Louvre.

The Pont Neuf is arguably the best way to get into Ile de la Cite. While there are other connecting bridges, this one carries the most history with it, and is the most extravagant of them. Besides the inspiring view one gets of the Seine, it has been quoted that a sunset on the New Bridge is something you want to experience when you visit the majestic city.