What makes Paris the most romantic city in the world? The Seine River coursing through the center of Paris has a hand in this designation. Just walk the banks of the Seine. People flock here to socialize, dance, and run. Children play and lovers stroll the bridges hand in hand. Living in Paris, I make my way to the Seine daily and marvel at how the bridges link one bank of the city to the other. Thirty-seven bridges span the Seine in Paris, each one a unique destination in its own right. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Pont Alexandre III
Quai D’Orsay, 8th Arrondissement
Metro Stop: Invalides, Line 8 And 13
Hands down, Pont Alexandre III is the prettiest and most elegant of all the Paris bridges. Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, lions, cupids, nymphs, and four golden statues of Pegasus are just a few of the details to enjoy while lingering on this beautiful bridge. From Pont Alexandre III, there are stellar views of the Eiffel Tower, and thus this Paris bridge is worth strolling both day and night.
Pont Alexandre III spans the Seine connecting the Invalides, Napoleon’s tomb, and the Grand and Petit Palaces. This designated historical monument was built for the Paris Exposition of 1900, a world fair to celebrate advances in science and technology.
Pont Alexandre III is named after Tsar Alexander III to honor the diplomatic relationship between France and Russia in the late 19th century.
2. Pont Neuf
Ile De La Cite, 1st Arrondissement
Metro Stop: Pont Neuf, Line 7 Or Cite, Line 4
Even though its name is New Bridge, Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris. It can be found at the western tip of Ile de la Cite. Built at the end of the 16th century and opened in 1607, Pont Neuf was the first stone bridge to cross the Seine and the first bridge without buildings. The first Paris sidewalk was built on Pont Neuf, just perfect to protect pedestrians from the muddy street.
One of the most interesting bridges in Paris, its cornices are decorated with 384 unique mascarons (stone masks). Each time you visit the bridge, there is always a new face to discover! Pont Neuf’s 12 arches are topped with semi-circular balconies making the perfect spot to stop and observe Parisian life and activity on the Seine River. Halfway across the bridge is the commanding equestrian statue of King Henri IV. This statue is a replica, as the original was melted down in the French Revolution.
3. Pont Des Arts
Quai Francois Mitterand, 6th Arrondissement
Metro Stop: Pont Neuf, Line 7
Pont des Arts, the pedestrian bridge that links the Institute of France and the Louvre, is also known as the lovelock bridge. It is the Pont des Arts that, for years, became the place for making a gesture of romantic love in Paris. Buy a lock, attach it to the panels on the Pont des Arts, and throw the key into the Seine. A declaration of everlasting love.
The locks, attached by the hundreds of thousands, became so heavy that the bridge railings started collapsing under their weight. Pont des Arts already had to be closed and rebuilt between 1979 and 1984; thus, the lovelock tradition came to an abrupt halt in 2015, and the metal panels were replaced by plexiglass.
The stunning Pont des Arts, part of the UNESCO World Heritage district of the Seine, has made an appearance in movies and dramas, currently in the first episode of the Lupin series on Netflix.
With its glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, houseboats, and Ile de la Cite, this beautiful Paris bridge is not to be missed.
4. Pont De Bir-Hakeim
Quai Branly, 15th Arrondissement
Metro: Bir-Hakeim, Line 6
A lot is happening on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim. Along with spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower, this two-level bridge has Metro line 6 crossing it on the upper level. On the lower level are lanes for vehicles and a center lane for bicycles and pedestrians. Plan a trip on Metro line 6 and gaze at the magnificent views of the Seine and Eiffel Tower twinkling through the Metro windows! Stroll the lower level of the bridge and also take the steps leading from Pont de Bir-Hakeim to Ile aux Cygnes with a stop at the Statue of Liberty.
Pont de Bir-Hakeim was originally named Pont de Passy, but the name was changed in 1948 to Pont de Bir-Hakeim as a tribute to the Battle of Bir-Hakeim in WWII. Bir-Hakeim, a water station in the Libyan desert, was the location of a battle between the Free French Brigade and the Germans (Afrika Korps).
Such a gorgeous location, the Pont de Bir-Hakeim has been featured in many movies, including Inception (2010) and The Last Tango in Paris (1972).
5. Pont De L’Alma
Quai Branly, 8th Arrondissement
Metro: Alma-Marceau, Line 9
Inaugurated in 1856 by Napoleon III, the Pont de l’Alma was named to commemorate the Battle of Alma during the Crimean war. Four large statues of soldiers adorned the bridge, of which only one remains. Peek over the edge of the bridge to find Zouave. He’s huge! Used to measure the rising levels of the Seine, Zouave’s feet should never be wet. In the Paris floods of 1910, the waters of the Seine rose to his shoulders.
The Pont de l’Alma became a household name in 1997 when Princess Diana was killed in a tragic car crash in the tunnel of Pont de l’Alma. Sitting above the tunnel is the Flame of Liberty, a replica of the flame from the Statue of Liberty, given to France by the International Herald Tribune in 1986 as a symbol of friendship between them. The Flame of Liberty has become a symbol for Princess Diana, where tributes such as flowers and letters are still placed today.
The Pont de l’Alma, with its spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower, is not the original bridge but a more modern bridge that opened in 1974.
6. Pont Au Double
Square In Front Of Notre Dame Cathedral, 4th Arrondissement
Metro Stop: Saint Michel, Line 4
The current Pont au Double dates to 1883, but there has been a bridge in this exact location since 1626. Just tucked under the shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral, the current single arch cast-iron bridge will catch your attention with its copper color gleaming in the sun.
The Pont au Double was built to connect the “Hotel Dieu” (hospital) beside Notre Dame Cathedral with another hospital section on the Left Bank. Pedestrians were required to pay a toll in the amount of a “double tournoi,” a currency at the time, thus giving the bridge its name.
7. Passerelle Simone-De-Beauvoir
Quai De Bercy, 12th Arrondissement
Metro Stop: Cour St Emilion, Line 14 Or RER C Stop: Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterand
The Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir is the 37th bridge in Paris. The newest Paris bridge, inaugurated in 2006, is for pedestrians and cyclists and connects the Francois Mitterand Library on the Left Bank with the Village of Bercy on the Right Bank. The Simone-de-Beauvoir bridge's gorgeous undulating shape and the fact that it never touches the water, as its supports are on the Seine banks, make it an interesting bridge to cross. Photographers will love trying to capture its wave-like shape.
Named in honor of the 20th-century French philosopher and feminist Simone de Beauvoir, visiting this bridge might inspire you to read one of her books or sit at Les Deux Magots, one of her cafe haunts.
8. Pont Mirabeau
Quai Andre Citroen, 15th Arrondissement
Metro Stop: Javel-Andre Citroen, Line 10
The Pont Mirabeau was made forever famous by Guillaume Apollinaire’s love poem “Le Pont Mirabeau.” The French poet strikes a melancholy chord describing the end of a love affair and time passing away. The Seine waters flow under the Pont Mirabeau, never to return, just like love and time. Look on the Mirabeau bridge for the plaque where the poem's first lines, published in 1913, are engraved.
The Pont Mirabeau, a historical monument, was the first Parisian bridge built entirely of metal. It is also noteworthy for its four allegories. These impressive statues represent the City of Paris, navigation, commerce, and abundance.
9. Pont De L’Iena
Quai De New-York, 16th Arrondissement
Metro Stop: Trocadero, Lines 6 And 9
If you have been to the Eiffel Tower, chances are that you have walked across this Parisian bridge, the Pont de l’Iena. This bridge has an incredible location linking the Eiffel Tower, on the Left Bank, to the Trocadero and the Chaillot Palace, on the Right Bank. The historical monument built between 1808 and 1814 was inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory at the Battle of Jena over Prussia.
There is a unique equestrian warrior at each corner of the bridge. Look for the Gallic warrior and the Roman on one side of the bridge and the Greek and Arab warriors on the other. Don’t miss the Imperial Eagles sculpted on the piers of the Pont de l’Iena.
Take a Seine River cruise under the bridges, stroll across the tops of the bridges, marvel at the islands and the way that life in Paris, from one bank to the other, is intertwined by its 37 unique bridges.