Pont Alexandre III, a bridge to celebrate the Franco-Russian Alliance

The Pont Alexandre III spans the Seine in the axis of the Hôtel des Invalides on the Rive Gauche.

Pont Alexandre III - Sculpted head
Sculpted head

It leads to the Grand Palais and Petit Palais and the Champs-Elysées.

Lavishly decorated, it is one of the most attractive bridges in Paris.

The architects Resal and Alby built it in two years for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. 

The French president Emile Loubet unveiled it.

It was built in order to celebrate the Franco-Russian Alliance

This peace agreement was sealed in August 1897 when the French President Félix Faure laid the first stone of the Trinity Bridge – designed by Gustave Eiffel – in Saint Petersburg.

It is the largest and lowest bridge of Paris (154m x 40m). 

Pont Alexandre III, a masterpiece of metal architecture

Pont Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III and Grand Palais

The Pont Alexandre III is a masterpiece of steel architecture.

A single arch with three joints, four cast steel girders and two masonry viaducts anchored on the riverbanks indeed support the whole structure.

Its lavish decoration and architecture are a perfect illustration of Belle Epoque style.

However, the bridge was not to every one’s taste initially and its detractors soon nicknamed it the Exhibition Bridge.

It is now a listed Historical Monument.

Pont Alexandre III’s lavish decoration

Fames and Pegasus

Two 17m tall monumental pillars frame the bridge on each bank. A gilded bronze statue of a Renommée – Fame restraining Pegasus crowns each pillar.

Pont Alexandre III - Pegasus and Fame
Pegasus and Fame

These magnificent sculpted pillars are not only decorative, as they also act as a counterweight for the single spanning arch.

Emmanuel Frémiet sculpted the Fame of the Sciences and Fame of the Arts on the Rive Droit; Pierre Granet the Fame of Commerce and Fame of Industry on the Rive Gauche.

The marble sculptural groups that adorn the base of the pillars depict four different historical and artistic French periods:

La France Contemporaine – Contemporary France by Gustave Michel.

La France de Charlemagne – Charlemagne’s France by Alfred Lenoir.

La France de la Renaissance – French Renaissance France by Jules Coutan.

La France de Louis XIV – Louis XIV ‘s France by Laurent Marqueste.

Finally, Jules Dalou sculpted the Lions guarding the bridge’s entrances.

Pont Alexandre III - Nymphs of the River Seine
Nymphs of the River Seine

Keystones

Georges Récipon produced the hammered copper sculptures that adorn the keystones.

The theme of their decoration commemorates the Franco-Russian Alliance.

The sculptural group adorning the upstream keystone represents the Nymphs of the river Seine and the coat of arms of the City of Paris.

The downstream keystone group represents the Nymphs of the river Neva and the coat of arms of Imperial Russia.

Pont Alexandre III - Candelabra
Candelabra

Léopold Morice and A. Massoule sculpted the copper sculptures that adorn the central parapets and depict water spirits and seashells.

Candelabras

Thirty-two small lamp posts were placed along the parapets in order to lit the bridge. 

Henri Gauquic sculpted the 4 monumental candelabras adorned with cupids and sea monsters.

The bridge was painted in various colours over the decades. However, it was recently repainted to its superb original pearl grey colour.

You’ll obtain the best photos from the riverbank.

Directions: Links 7th/8th districts
Metro station: Invalides on Lines 8 and 13
Coordinates: Lat 48.863593 – Long 2.313588

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