In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some fun facts about the Pont Alexandre III, a bridge in Paris that you simply have to cross when you visit France’s capital.
1. The bridge spans the River Seine
The Pont Alexandre III (“pont” means “bridge in French) spans the famous River Seine in Paris. It’s one of the most famous bridges in the city and is located in a very important area.
What a better place to cross the Seine with the dome of Les Invalides in the background!
2. It was supposed to be much higher
The bridge is a deck arch bridge, meaning its deck is curved like an arch, and only consists of 6 meters (20 feet) high single-span steel arch.
This wasn’t an easy feat in the late 19th century and if it was up to the engineers, led by Jean Résal and Amédée Alby, the bridge would have been much higher which would have made it much easier to construct.
This wasn’t allowed though; because they didn’t want the bridge to hinder the amazing view of the Champs-Élysées.
You wouldn’t disagree with that, right?
3. It’s famous for its magnificent ornaments
One of the most interesting facts about the Pont Alexandre III is that it’s decorated with various ornaments. These include Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, and nymphs.
The bridge itself was built in the typical Beaux-Art Style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The bridge can easily be recognized by the four gilt-bronze statues of Fames which are resting on 17 meters (56 ft) tall pillars on each side of the bridge.
These 4 pillars aren’t just decorative features though as they also provide a counterweight for the arched bridge.
A pretty amazing functional feature indeed!
4. It’s a French “Monument Historique”
As one of the most famous landmarks in Paris, the bridge has been inscribed as a French “Monument Historique” since the year 1975.
That’s exactly 75 years after the bridge was completed!
5. The bridge was named after a Russian Tsar
So who is Alexandre III and why does he have a bridge in his name in the center of Paris? And better, yet, why is it one of the finest bridges in the entire city?!
Alexandre III was the Russian Tsar from 1881 until his death in the year 1894. The bridge was named in his honor because he played a crucial role in establishing the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892.
Unfortunately, this alliance, which established enhanced military and economic interests between France and Russia, was nullified by the Soviet government in 1917.
6. The foundation stone was laid by the Tsar’s son
Since Tsar Alexandre III had died 2 years before the plans for the bridge were completed, it was his son, Tsar Nicholas II who was allowed to lay the foundation stone in October 1896.
Ironically, he was also the one who was abdicated in 1917 which resulted in the Franco-Russian Alliance being nullified.
7. Gustave Eiffel designed a bridge in Russia for the same cause
One of the most fun facts about the Pont Alexandre III is that it actually has a brother in Russia, designed by nobody else than Gustave Eiffel, the creator of the Eiffel Tower!
Its Russian counterpart, which was built between 1897 and 1903 for the same reason as the bridge in Paris, is called the “Trinity Bridge” and is located in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg.
As an equal token of respect, the first stone of this bridge was laid in August 1897 by French president Félix Faure.
The bridge in Russia certainly looks a bit less extravagant, don’t you think?
8. Its design resembles another famous landmark in Paris
The bridge directly leads to the Grand Palais on the right bank of the Seine and has a similar Beaux-Arts architectural style.
9. It was inaugurated for a famous event
While the Pont Alexandre II was built to commemorate the alliance between France and Russia, its construction had to be done quickly to be ready for a famous event.
The bridge was completed just in time for the Exposition Universelle of 1900, of which the Grand Palais was the centerpiece.
Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was the centerpiece of a similar event just 11 years earlier in 1889?
10. The Pont Alexandre III has been featured in multiple movies
It’s pretty normal for famous landmarks to be used in movies, and the Pont Alexandre III is no different. It has been featured in numerous popular and iconic movies such as:
- A View to a Kill – James Bond movie (1885)
- Ronin – American action thriller (1998)
- A Very Long Engagement – French romance movie (2004)
- Midnight in Paris – Fantasy movie by Woody Allen (2011)
- Me before you – Romantic drama based on a bestselling novel (2016)