Unlike my recent Paris Subway Guide, this one does not include an intricate itinerary. It’s rather a way of discovering the city from its very spine. “Paris bridges” is a walk along the Seine river and a way of using the slow water pace to feel this beautiful city at heart.
Paris and the Seine river
I could say a lot about the Seine river and Parisian. A rough idea would be to say that if the Parisii chose to build the first cabins where Paris sits now, it certainly is thanks to the nutritive, or nutrient even Seine river.
Few thousands of years later, Parisian still cherish and admire these capricious waters. They go picnic, browse old books and postcards in what they call the “Bouquinistes” (bookinists), they even bring in a real beach to make it be a sea during the summertime.
The Seine along with the Champs Elysee are undoubtedly the two most famous Paris arteries, for tourists, but the Seine is the one Parisians choose to have a walk with on weekends. They all dream of buying this apartment with a view over its waters, and many of the great city events are happening along its banks.
Paris and its bridges
Paris is surrounded by the “Boulevard Peripherique” (Peripheric Boulevard) It’s a circling highway where cars are driving a far too high speed as Frenches like to say “bumper against bumper.” It’s been better for few years since the speed limit is severely controlled by radars in France. But still a road with dense traffic. The first and the last bridges on the seine within the city are the ones of this boulevard. They are not historical, not exciting, not beautiful, but they are the beginning and the end of the town.
I’m excluding these two from our walk, though you’ll see them from the far on my photos. This walk is a 35-bridges, footbridges and viaduct itinerary.
So here it is, “Paris Bridges,” a walk along the Seine river!
A one day walk along Paris bridges
We’ll start our walk on the western part of the Seine to go to the East.
I divided the bridges into three parts, the ones before Ile de la Cite, the ones after, and the ones on the islands.
However, if you don’t want to spend the whole day along the river banks, you could split this walk in two at Ile de la Cite.
From South West to “Ile de la Cite”
15 Paris bridges between Boulevard Peripherique and Pont Neuf.
“Pont Garigliano,” “Pont Mirabeau” and “Pont de Grenelle-Cadets-de-Saumur”
We start at “Pont Mirabeau” from the southern bank. Not that “Pont du Garigliano” first bridge after the “Boulevard Peripherique” is not exciting, it’s more the walk between the two that isn’t a joyful one!
From this starting point, we have the “Pont du Garigliano” and the “Boulevard Peripherique” behind, on one side:
And the whole Paris on the other side:
“Pont de Grenelle-Cadets-de-Saumur” with the small version of the Statue of Liberty:
“Ile aux Cygnes.”
On the “Pont de Grenelle-Cadets-de-Saumur,” we are only half crossing, and go down the “Iles aux Cygnes” (Swans’ Island)
This first island on the Seine being thin, bridges cross over it in one leg.
“Pont Rouelle” northern half
“Pont de Bir-Hakeim” northern half:
As we are now at the end of the island, we are climbing up the stairs and enter the lower part of the bridge to finish crossing the river and walk on the north bank.
The next bridge crosses the Seine at the Eiffel Tower’s feet.
We keep walking without crossing. You may want to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. In that case, you can cross on “Pont d’Iena,” but you won’t have time to do everything in one day. In that case, opt for a two-day split walk.
The next bridge is indeed a footbridge.
“Pont de l’Alma”:
With its Zouave marking the rise in water level of the Seine river. When the Zouave has his feet in the river, then it’s a bad sign and the banks may close. Even worse sign for the commuters. It’s not often. However, this event is a buzz in Paris and even France!
The Zouave watching the colour run:
Arriving in the heart of the city
“Pont des Invalides,” leading to “Hotel des Invalides” with the Army Museum:
The majestic golden horses of “Pont Alexandre III”:
“Pont de la Concorde”:
A double-deck footbridge the “Pont de Solferino”:
“Pont Royal”, marking the beginning of the Louvres Museum:
“Pont du Carrousel”: leading to the Louvres Pyramide:
The famous “Pont des Arts,” the footpath where the love-lockers movement began:
The “Pont des Arts” is the last one before the two islands at the very heart of Paris: “Ile de la Cite” and “Ile Saint Louis.”
“Ile de la Cite” and “Ile St Louis” Bridges
13 Paris bridges from Pont Neuf to Pont de Sully
“Square du Vert-Galant.”
Most of the bridges on both islands are not crossing them. In that case will name the north bank of the island (facing what the Parisian call “Rive Droite”: Right Bank or the northern part of Paris), and the south bank (facing “Rive Gauche”: Left Bank or the southern part of Paris).
The first one “Pont Neuf” (New Bridge) is the oldest bridge in Paris. It separates the “Square du Vert-Galant” from the rest of the island as it’s crossing the island.
If the love lockers story started on Pont des Arts a couple of decades ago, they had to be moved. The footbridge was not strong enough to support the weight of all the lockers. Now there are in several places, one of them is here: at “Square du Vert-Galant.”
“Ile de la Cite” bridges
After Pont Neuf, on the north bank of “Ile de la Cite,” we pass “Pont du Change.” It’s named after the moneylenders, jewellers and goldsmiths who had to have their business only on this bridge from the 12th century. However, it was a wooden bridge until the 17th century, but it burnt. It was rebuilt with stones after that.
“Pont Notre Dame” is leading to Notre Dame!
On the south bank of “Ile de la Cite” after crossing the island walking through “Rue de la Cite”:
“Pont St Michel” is ending on St Michel square with its fountain.
“Petit Pont – Cardinal Lustiger” and then behind it: “Pont au Double.” “Petit Pont” was built in the 19th it’s a single stone arch. There’s been a bridge at this exact place since antiquity.
“Pont au Double” was the bridge used by sick people to reach the hospital. there was a toll on this bridge: you had to pay a double “denier” (the money in the 17th century) to cross it, hence the name.
Crossing once again “Ile de la Cite, this time by Notre Dame square, on the north bank of the island:
“Pont d’Arcole” named after a late 18th century battle between the French and the Austrians.
Between two islands
We are about to leave “Ile de la Cite” for “Ile St Louis,” on the right is “Pont St Louis,” between the two islands. On the left “Pont Louis Philippe” from “Ile St Louis” north bank.
“Pont Louis Philippe” remained unnamed for almost 20 years after its official opening.
Then back on the other side of “Ile de la Cite,” the “Pont de l’Archeveche” (Palace of the Archbishop bridge). It’s the narrowest bridge of Paris. It’s our last bridge on “Ile de la Cite.”
“Ile St Louis”
It’s time to cross to “Ile St Louis” on “Pont St Louis”:
On the south bank of “Ile St Louis,” the first bridge is “Pont de la Tournelle.” This bridge was once a 6 arch-bridge, but it was unsuitable for fluvial circulation, so it was modified. The statue on the right is Sainte Genevieve.
You can walk on “Rue des Deux Ponts” (Two Bridges-street) to cross the island to the north bank and find “Pont Marie” is not named after Marie Christ’s mother, but Christopher Marie, its architect.
“Pont Sully” is the last bridge on “Ile St Louis.” Like “Pont Neuf” it crosses through the island linking the southern and northern bank of the city. It doesn’t look like it, but the two legs of the bridge are perfectly aligned.
From “Ile de la Cite” to East
7 Paris bridges between Pont de Sully and Boulevard Peripherique.
We’ll keep walking on the southern bank of the Seine river.
After the “Jardin Tino Rossi” (Tino Rossi Garden), there are few walkers. However, the banks are very well maintained it’s a nice walk.
The first bridge is “Pont d’Austerlitz” because it leads to the train station of the same name.
The only viaduct in Paris “Viaduc d’Austerlitz”:
“Pont Charles de Gaulle.”
For a while, the river bank is situated under the “Cite de la Mode et du Design” (Fashion and Design Center).
Then “Pont de Bercy” just before it, is the Ministry of Finances, going over the Seine river.
I must admit that after more than 15 km walking the banks and streets in Paris, plus the 14km in the subway stations the day before, to write our two Paris guides, we went a little lazy. We didn’t go further than Bercy bridge. So, in this photo you can see: Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir (a footpath) then “Pont Tolbiac,” and behind the legs of “Pont National.”
This last bridge is the end of our Paris Bridges Tour. I hope you enjoyed the walk!