Pont Neuf

Arianna Carson

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  • Paris, France
  • Crosses La Seine and cuts through Île de la Cité

Background Information and History

  • Construction started in May of 1578 by Henri III. The bridge wasn't visible above the waterline until the year 1587 due to religious violence that delayed the construction for over a decade.
  • The purpose of the bridge was for bigger vehicles, such as carriages that were just starting to show up as personal transportation in London and Paris. It was also built as a symbol of victory which was known throughout the area as Pont Neuf. It also became very convenient for locals.
  • Pont Neuf was also used as a means of communication as well. Many people gathered here to hear the latest news, gossip, and events. Many people would also stand there to read the news aloud for those of the population who couldn't read.

Size and Materials

  • Pont Neuf is 160 toises, or nearly 1,000 feet long, and 12 toises wide, or 75 feet wide.
  • The bridge is 12 arches across (7 on one side, 5 on the other)
  • Pont Neuf is made of Masonry, which is was very unusual and unique at the time of construction and when the bridge was first opened. This bridge is fireproof and was meant to endure, which it did pretty well. Pont Neuf is actually one of the oldest bridges in Paris.
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Place du Pont Neuf

  • In 1607, Pont Neuf was finally opened by King Henry IV.
  • After his death, a statue of the King was placed at the center of the bridge.
  • During the Revolutionary war, however, the statue was knocked over and melted down. In 1818, an exact replica was placed at the center of the bridge.
  • People would also use this as a meeting place. Phrases such as "let's meet by the Bronze King" or "I'll wait for you underneath the Bronze Horse" were used.
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Other Facts

  • After long periods of religious violence, the people found Pont Neuf to be a great place to enjoy themselves at the entertainment space of the bridge.
  • One thing about Pont Neuf that makes it significant is that it brought people together no matter what they owned, or where they came from. You could see normal citizens, lower class people, and people of great importance at the bridge, such as Duc de Vendôme, the son of Henry IV.
  • The base of Pont Neuf became a popular spot for public bathing. If you were to go down the Seine past Pont Neuf, you would see people along the banks sunbathing. At times, the police would have to step in when nude sunbathers were spotted.
  • The bridge was a place of public popularity, which meant that many people would be here, and rumors would spread like wildfire. This eventually created the expression "C'est connu comme le Pont Neuf", -"Everyone knows that already."
  • Pont Neuf was also a street market and had many theatrical performances, almost like a big tourist attraction with shops of trinkets and souvenirs.
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