If the Eiffel Tower is the symbol of the France and Paris, « La Dame de fer » is not the most visited the monument by France. First place goes to the cathedral « Notre-Dame de Paris ». And if you want to visit this extraodinary church you must take one of the 9th bridges to go to the island St-Louis. And why not take the « Pont neuf » ?
If you are looking for an unforgettable and original place to immortalize in painting, I recommend this view. Between the barges, the seine and the bridge, what a beautiful postcard of Paris! Many painters have immortalized it. We often go to this bridge with my students for an outdoor painting class and they always make beautiful watercolour paintings!
2 reasons of its construction
During 16th century, on the island St Louis, there was only, 2 bridges connecting the north of Paris (parisians call it « la rive droite ») and the south (« la rive gauche »).This bridges « Saint-Michel » and « Notre-Dame » was always severely congested. There were unusable. It was becoming imperative to find a new road. The other reason was that king Henri III was sick on boat. And he did not like crossing the « Seine » by boat. So it was necessary to build another bridge to decongest trafic and save the King !
The oldest bridge in Paris
We can translate « Pont neuf » to « Bridge n°9», or « New bridge ». But le « Pont neuf » is not the 9th of 37 Parisian bridges, and not either a new bridge. It was built in the 16 century during Henry III and Henry IV’s reign. Which make it the oldest bridge of Paris! So why this name « Pont neuf » ? It’s because for those days, this bridge was really revolutionary. It was the first bridge with sidewalks. Today we can’t imagine streets without sidewalks ! But before the constrution of « Pont neuf » people walk near horses-drawn charriages, horseman… that was extremely dangerous. Thanks to this sidewalks the pedestrians were safe. Another novelty of the era, any house was built on the bridge, only book-sellers and merchants.
The « Pont des pleurs »
Do you know that parisians had given to the« Pont neuf » an other name : the « Pont des pleurs » or (« Weeping bridge »). The first day of it construction in 1578 was a day of mourning for King Henri III. Rumor was that two of his lovers were died the same day during a duel.