Paris Bridges

The River Seine crosses Paris from the east to the west over a course of thirteen kilometers. within this distance, thirty six bridges allow passage from one bank of the river to the other.

In the early days of Paris, the crossing of the River Seine was accomplished by fords and ferries. These were followed by wooden bridges which were often washed away by the rising river.

Wooden bridges were succeeded by stone bridges, unmatched for their durability. Because of the loose soil upon which the bridges were built, they had to be built on pillars solidly anchored in bedrock. Today there are fifteen stone bridges remaining.

Then came bridges constructed from metal. First in cast iron, fastened together with bolts and rivets and later built from steel. Today there are sixteen bridges made of metal in Paris.

Finally, reinforced concrete replaced earlier construction materials.

Throughout history, these bridges have constituted the arteries that tie Paris together. Without them, Paris's long loops of the Seine would become again what they were when the city was founded 2,000 years ago on an island in the river, a formidable obstacle.

Adolph Hitler recognized this during the waning days of World War II. When it became ever more apparent that the Nazis would be driven from Paris, Hiter was determined to leave the city in shambles. He instructed his military commander in Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, to rig all of Paris's great monuments, train stations and bridges with high explosives so that at the moment of the Nazi withdrawal from the city they could be destroyed. On August 25, 1944, with the Allied forces approaching Paris, Hitler gave the order to destroy Paris. It was only because of von Choltitz' refusal to follow Hitler's order that the beautiful bridges of Paris were saved.

Of the thiry six bridges on the Seine, two are pedestrian bridges, two are reserved for the Métro and RER trains and three are used for cars and trains.

As you walk around Paris today, it is easy to fail to notice its bridges. To do so, is to miss much of the beauty of Paris.

Paris Tabac