05 January 2017

French Bridges: 11. Pont Saint-Michel, Paris

From the Pont Neuf, the next few bridges are heading upstream along the Seine between the Île de la Cité and the river's left bank.

The Pont Saint-Michel was built in 1857, on the site of several predecessors.

A bridge was first built here in 1378, complete with houses on both sides. This was destroyed by ice in 1408, and a timber bridge built in its place 8 years later. It took its name from the nearby Chapel of Saint-Michel.

The timber bridge was destroyed when hit by boats in 1547, and rebuilt quickly a second time in timber. At this time, the bridge still had houses along its length, shown in a contemporary painting. This bridge was destroyed by more ice floes in 1616, and replaced for the first time in stone 8 years later. The stone bridge had four arch spans, and initially supported houses until these were removed in 1808. It was founded on timber piles.

The present bridge was built to a design by Paul Vaudrey and Paul-Martin Gallocher de Lagalisserie. with only three arches, presumably to improve navigation and allow water to flow more freely. In honour of Napoleon III, it is adorned with the large capital letter "N" surrounded by laurel leaves, a feature also of the Pont au Change, designed by the same partners and completed in 1860.

The bridge is notorious as the site of the appalling 1961 massacre of Algerian protesters at the hands of the French police force.

I only saw this bridge from the river, so don't have many photos, but I thought it was worth featuring due to its interesting history.

Further information:


Mark Yashinsky said...

Readers interested in seeing the Pont Saint-Michel and other Seine River Crossings in daylight can visit the Bridge of the Week Website (http://www.bridgeofweek.com/search?q=pont+saint+michel).

The Happy Pontist said...

Many thanks Mark, I'll add links from these posts to your blog for any bridges you have also featured!