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Pont de la Tournelle – Paris bridge - Facts

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Pont de la Tournelle

The Pont de la Tournelle links the Ile St-Louis to Quai de la Tournelle on the Rive Gauche.

It is aligned with the Pont Marie, its counterpart on the north bank of the island.

The Rue des Deux Ponts links the two bridges.

A first wooden bridge, built in the 14th century, connected the Left Bank to the Ile Notre-Dame.

This islet was one of the two islets that merged in order to form the current Ile St-Louis.

The terrible floods of 1651 swept away most of that wooden bridge.

Christophe Marie, the developer of the Ile St-Louis, replaced it in 1656 with a stone bridge.

However, this six semicircular-arch bridge proved to be quite a hindrance in terms of fluvial navigation.

It was widened in 1845 but it was eventually demolished between 1918 and 1921.

The engineers Deval, Lang and Retraint built the current Pont de la Tournelle in 1928.

The bridge is 120 m long by 23 m wide; two small lateral arches flank a large and low central arch.

Stone blocks conceal the reinforced concrete structure.

One of Philippe Auguste’s Wall watch towers left its name to the bridge.

This square tower or Tourelle became eventually known as Tournelle.

It commanded the river Seine upstream and protected Paris from any westwards incursion.

Statue of Sainte-Geneviève by Landowski

In 1928 the City of Paris commissioned the sculptor Landowski with the creation of the statue of Sainte-Geneviève to adorn the bridge.

The sculptor represented the patron saint of Paris as a young woman protecting a child holding in his arms a vessel, the symbol of Paris.

He sculpted the 5,40m high statue directly from a 14m high monolith.

He wanted to sculpt a shorter statue and place it facing Notre-Dame Cathedral downstream, but he had to comply with the requests of the City of Paris.

The statue had to face westwards to symbolically shield the city from any danger coming from upstream; it also had to be tall enough to be seen from far away.

The statue was erected on the spot where the saint's shrine was temporarily kept in 885 before it was transferred to Saint-Étienne-du-Mont Church.

Metro: Pont Marie on Line 7
Coordinates: Lat 48.850341 - Long 2.355269

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