Paris - Ile De France

Petit Pont – Paris bridge – Historical facts

This page was updated on: Monday, January 6, 2020 at: 1:24 pm

Petit Pont, the oldest bridge in Paris

The Petit Pont connects the Ile de la Cité to the Left Bank and is one of the two oldest bridges of Paris!

The Celtic tribe Parisii built their fortress Lutetia on the island in the 3rd century BC and connected it to the mainland with two wooden footbridges.

The Romans conquered France in 52BC and made Lutetia the centre of their northern power and administration.

They redeveloped the island and replaced the footbridges with wooden bridges.

They named one Petit Pont (small bridge) as it spanned the narrowest arm of the Seine, and the second Grand Pont (big bridge - current Pont Notre-Dame) as it spanned the widest.

They also aligned them with their Cardo, the main north-south axis that today corresponds to Rue Saint-Jacques and Rue Saint-Martin.

These two wooden bridges remained for generations the only links between the island and the left and right banks.

River floods repeatedly destroyed the Petit Pont between the 9th and 18th century.

However, it was systematically rebuilt on the same spot and has retained its original name!

The stone bridge

The first stone bridge was built in 1175 at the initiative of Maurice Sully, the bishop of Paris and builder of Notre-Dame Cathedral.

The exceptional floods of 1393 blew it away, but a new three-arch stone bridge was built with funds raised with a tax imposed on the Jewish community of Paris.

The floods of 1408 destroyed it.

Construction of a new bridge with two rows of houses started a year later, but work dragged until 1416 due to lack of funds.

Recurrent floods damaged the Petit Pont in 1649, 1651, 1658, and 1659, when a new stone bridge on wooden pillars was built.

Disaster stroke once more in 1718, as the bridge burned when a barge loaded of hay came accidentally crashing on its pillars.

It was rebuilt in 1719, but this time without houses.

The engineer Ernest Gariel built the current single-arch bridge (32m long by 20m wide) on plans drawn by the architect Alexandre Michal.

The Petit-Pont was open to traffic in 1853; it's not one of the most attractive in Paris, but without any doubt the most historical.

Metro: St-Michel or Cité on Line 4
Coordinates: Lat 48.853294 - Long 2.347025

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