Zouave Statue – History


Zouave statue seen from the Right Bank

The Pont de l’Alma spans the Seine halfway between the Eiffel Tower and the Invalides.

The 142m long x 42m wide bridge was built between 1854 and 1856 by the engineer Gariel, and was inaugurated by Napoleon III.

It is one of the most photographed bridges in Paris as it is famous for the statue of a Zouave soldier standing on its single pier upstream.

The Zouaves Regiment distinguished themselves at the Battle of the Alma (20/09/1854) during the Crimean War.

The battle ended in the victory of France, England, Piedmont and the Ottoman Empire over Russia.

Each of the four piers of the Pont de l’Alma was adorned with a statue representing a regiment which fought during the Crimean War.

Arnaud sculpted the statues of Infantry soldier and Artilleryman.

Diebolt sculpted the Grenadier and the famous Zouave.


Zouave seen from the Left Bank

The Alma Bridge was rebuilt in 1974 as it had become too narrow and unstable.

The statues were transferred with the exception of the Zouave which was installed on the single pier of new bridge.

This statue represents André-Louis Gody (1828-1896), a veteran of the Napoleonic wars who was born in Gravelines in Northern France.

The Zouave statue was traditionally used as an unofficial standard to indicate the rise in the water level of the Seine until it was moved onto this new pier which is slightly elevated.

The Parisians knew that the river was flooding when the water reached the foot of the Zouave statue!

1910 is known as the year of the ‘Flood of the Century’ as the waters rose by 8.62 m and reached the shoulders of the Zouave statue!


Zouave statue on the bridge’s single pier

The second historical flood occurred in 1955 when the Seine rose by 7.12 m and immersed the statue up to the waist.

In 2001 the Zouave statue had water up to knee level (5m).

The latest flood dates from 27th December 2010 when the river once more overflowed its bed (3.78 m).

It then reached the feet of the statue, causing major chaos in Paris as the banks and underground were closed to traffic.

Directions: 8th district 
Metro station: Alma-Marceau on Line 9

Coordinates and map the Zouave Statue on Pont de l’Alma: Lat 48.863816 – Long 2.302013

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