Essential Architecture-  Paris

Pont des Arts


engineers Louis-Alexandre de Cessart and Jacques Dillon


Built in 1804 and located next to the Louvre, this footbridge is a meeting spot for artists and painters.
Located near the metro station: Louvre - Rivoli.


1802 , rebuilt 1981


Victorian Industrial


Total length 115m (377 feet)  Width 11m (36 feet)


  A photograph of the Pont des Arts taken in the evening and showing people gathering on the bridge.
  View of the Pont des Arts from the pont du Carrousel.
The Pont des Arts or Passerelle des Arts is a pedestrian bridge in Paris which crosses the Seine River. It links the Institut de France and the central square (cour carrée) of the palais du Louvre, (which had been termed the "Palais des Arts" under the First French Empire).

Between 1802 and 1804, a nine-arch metallic bridge for pedestrians was constructed at the location of the present day Pont des Arts: this was the first metal bridge in Paris. This innovation was due to Napoléon I, following a design of English manufacture. The engineers Louis-Alexandre de Cessart and Jacques Dillon initially conceived of a bridge which would resemble a suspended garden, with trees, banks of flowers, and benches.

In 1976, the Inspector of Bridges and Causeways (Ponts et Chaussées) reported several deficiencies on the bridge. More specifically, he noted the damage that had been caused by two aerial bombardments sustained during World War One and World War Two and the harm done from the multiple collisions caused by boats. The bridge would be closed to circulation in 1977 and, in 1979, suffered a 60 meter collapse after a barge rammed into it.

The present bridge was built between 1981 and 1984 "identically" according to the plans of Louis Arretche, who had decided to reduce the number of arches from nine to seven, allowing the look of the old bridge to be preserved while realigning the new structure with the Pont Neuf. On the 27th of June, 1984, the newly reconstructed bridge was inaugurated by Jacques Chirac – the then Mayor of Paris.

The bridge has sometimes served as a place for art exhibitions, and is today a studio en plein air for painters, artists and photographers who are drawn to its unique point-of-view. Furthermore, the Pont des Arts is frequently a spot for picnics during the summer.

Film and television appearances
Due to its recognizable nature, the bridge has been featured in numerous films and television shows:

Le Pont des Arts is a French film directed by Eugène Green, with Natacha Régnier and Denis Podalydès. The film is a love story which tells the impossible tale of two youths who have never before met. The action unrolls in Paris between 1979 and 1980, in other words it occurs during the collapsing of the bridge. The film was presented in 2004 at the 57th Locarno International Film Festival.
It is featured in the last episode of Sex and the City.


Art historian Kenneth Clark is credited with writing about the Ponts des Arts in his book Civilisation:

"I am standing on the Pont des Arts in Paris. On the one side of the Seine is the harmonious, reasonable facade of the Institute of France, built as a college in about 1670. On the other bank is the Louvre, built continuously from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century: classical architecture at its most splendid and assured. Just visible upstream is the Cathedral of Notre Dame --not perhaps the most lovable of cathedrals, but the most rigorously intellectual façade in the whole of Gothic art. [...]
What is civilisation? I do not know. I can't define it in abstract terms --yet. But I think I can recognise it when I see it: and I am looking at it now."
Kenneth Clark, Civilisation (1969).

Georges Brassens in the song Le Vent (The Wind) from the album Les Amoureux des bancs publics (Lovers on Public Benches) published in 1954 evokes the strong wind which blows across the bridge :

Si, par hasard, (If by accident,)
Sur l'pont des Arts, (On the Pont des Arts,)
Tu croises le vent, le vent fripon, (You meet the wind, the mischievous wind,)
Prudence, prends garde à ton jupon ! (Prudence, guard your petticoat !)
Si, par hasard (If by accident,)
Sur l'pont des Arts (On the Pont des Arts,)
Tu croises le vent, le vent maraud (You meet the wind, the marauding wind,)
Prudent, prends garde à ton chapeau ! (Prudent, guard your hat !)