Passerelle des Arts
The first Pont des Arts was built in the early 19th century.
It was known as Passerelle des Arts, because it was (still is) a pedestrian footbridge (passerelle).
It led to the Palais du Louvre.
The palace had been converted in a museum during the French Revolution.
It was also renamed Palais des Arts (hence the footbridge’s name!)
Interestingly, this nine-arch footbridge was also the first metal bridge ever constructed in Paris.
The engineers Louis Alexandre de Cessart and Jacques Vincent Lacroix Dillon designed it to make it look like a hanging garden.
They therefore landscaped it with bushes, shrubs and flower beds.
A single arch replaced the two arches linking to the Rive Gauche during the widening of the Quai Conti in 1852.
This footbridge was in use for 125 years.
However, it was closed to the public in 1977.
Indeed, the devastation endured during the two world wars had seriously weakened the structure.
Additionally, several barges collisions (that occurred in the 1960s) contributed to further weakening!
As a result, a large section of the Pont des Arts eventually collapsed in 1979 when another barge hit the arches.
The bridge was disassembled the following year.
The city of Nogent-sur-Marne (to the east of Paris) purchased the sections that were intact shortly after.
It rebuilt the bridge by its marina in 1992.
Pont des Arts
The current Pont des Arts dates from the early 1980s and is a faithful replica of the original footbridge.
However, the architect Louis Arretche reduced the number of arches from eight to seven, in order to align them with those of the Pont-Neuf upstream.
Jacques Chirac – who was then the Mayor of Paris – inaugurated the ‘new’ Pont des Arts on June 27, 1984.
The Pont des Arts is one of the most popular bridges in Paris.
Not only it is pedestrian, but it also boasts spectacular views of the Ile de la Cité, the Pont-Neuf and the Louvre.
It was also very popular with tourist and lovers, who started the tradition of tying love padlocks or cadenas d’amour on the parapets.
However, these padlocks were removed in 2015.
Indeed, their ever increasing weight started to weaken the structure and posed serious safety issues.
The Pont des Arts is back to its original appearance, and often serves as a venue for art exhibitions.
It was listed Historical Monument in 1975.
Metro: Pont-Neuf (on Rive Droite) on Line 7
Coordinates: Lat 48.858449 – Long 2.337557