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Visiting the Pont de la Concorde, Paris, France: by Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, earlier named for King Louis XVI
An historic arch bridge
This 18th century bridge in Paris, named today and for most of its existence for the neighbouring place de la Concorde, onto which its roadway leads, was once named for King Louis XVI — later decapitated during a fit of Revolutionary zeal — at a time when this King still reigned in the early days of the French Revolution.
Interestingly, the stone for the arch Bridge was used from the masonry of the Bastille, the storming of which signaled the start of the Revolution.
The Pont de la Concorde's structural engineer was Jean-Rodolphe Perronet (1708-1794), a French-born distinguished figure during the Ancien régime, from a Swiss background, who designed many bridges (1).
The Bridge was completed in 1791. It was widened in the 1930s and underwent a further program of improvement in 1983; it now incorporates an element of reinforced concrete. Tragically, the engineer responsible for the improvement of the Bridge in the 1930s, Henri Lang (1895-1942) perished as a deportee to Auschwitz in World War Two.
The length of the Pont de la Concorde is 153 metres and its width is 34 metres. Its five arches span lengths of 25 metres, 28 metres, 31 metres, 28 metres and 25 metres respecively (2).
Previously a ferry operated at the location where the Bridge is built. Today, the Bridge links the city's 7th and 8th arrondissements.
The location of the Pont de la Concorde is noted for its fine, panoramic views of Paris, from which many of the city's most historic and famous structures are clearly visible.
The vicinity of the Bridge has seen some rather interesting incidents. On one occasion in 1934, when fascist-sponsored unrest had gripped the French capital, Edouard Herriot (1872-1957), a former Prime Minister who lived near the Madeleine church across the Pont de la Concorde from the National Assembly housed in the Bourbon Palace, was met by a very hostile crowd, which seemed intent on throwing Monsieur Herriot into the Seine River. The quick thinking Monsieur Herriot, a long serving Mayor of Lyons, retorted that he was deeply offended at the suggestion that he should end his days in the Seine, when Lyon's Rhône was a better river (3).
I suppose it can only be added hypothetically that, if dubious and disagreeable people wanted to throw French politicians into the Seine, then a centrally located spot such as the Pont de la Corcorde, with its proximity to the French National Assembly building, would be a rather obvious place to look for, in order to try to accomplish such an undesirable activity!
In the first photo which I have supplied of the Bridge (right, above), the Bourbon Palace — the National Assembly building — is seen to the left of the picture.
The Bridge includes several statues of historical figures. In the past, other, similar statues were erected on the Bridge also, but these were removed because their weight was proving to pose structural problems.
February 11, 2015
(1) Jean-Rodolphe Perronet specialized in the development of the arch bridge. He was also the founder in 1747 of what was later known as the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (National School of Bridges and Roads).
(2) See also: http://structurae.net/structures/pont-de-la-concorde
(3) Edouard Herriot survived the threats of fascists to drown him in the Seine; he was later deposed unconstitutionally from his post as Mayor of Lyon by the fascist Vichy régime and restored at the end of World War Two; and went on to serve also as President of the National Assembly.
Also worth seeing
The visitor attractions of Paris , France are so outstandingly numerous that they would be too difficult to summarize adequately here; but a few of these include: the Bourbon Palace, near the pont de la Concorde and the place de la Concorde; the Champs Elysées; the Arc de Triomphe; the Eiffel Tower; Notre Dame Cathedral; the Louvre; the Sacré-Cœur church at Montmartre.
Reims (distance: 144 kilometres) has an imposing Cathedral associated with the Kings of France and a Gallo-Roman, triumphal arch.
How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ), from where car rental is available; but visitors to Paris may wish to use the city's excellent public transport system. The Métro (subway) stops for the Bridge are Assemblée nationale and Concorde. Please be advised that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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