Pont Alexandre III history
Pont Alexandre III was constructed at the same time as the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, as a part of the 1900 World Exposition. Pont Alexandre III has a typical Art Nouveau style, with charming lamps, nymphs and angels along the sides.
The construction of the beautiful bridge of Pont Alexandre III took place between the years 1896 and 1900. As with many others of the World Exposition buildings, the bridge is a marvel of 19th century engineering. Pont Alexandre III is built with the rare method of using a single 6 meter high steel arch and counterweights on each side to balance it up.
The Russian Tsar
The name “Pont Alexandre” comes from the fact that “pont” is the French word for bridge, so the name simply means “the bridge of Alexander III”. As hinted by its name, the bridge is named after Alexander III – the Russian Tsar responsible for signing the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892.
This was an important alliance as it ended the diplomatic isolation of France and undermined the supremacy of the German Empire. Alexandre III:s son, the last Russian Tsar – Nicholas II – laid the foundation stone during the start of the construction in October 1896 and later attended the opening ceremony in 1900.
Why visit Pont Alexandre III ?
Pont Alexandre III is the most ornate and extravagant bridge in Paris and definitely one of the most famous bridges in France. The meaning of Pont Alexandre III, and its French-Russian connection, can not only be heard through the name of the bridge, but also by looking at it.
Seine and Neva
Pont Alexandre III is decorated with statues honoring the French-Russian alliance. Even though it can be hard to spot while standing on it, the bridge is decorated by two beautiful copper statues on each side along the bridge at the center of the arch. The statue on the side looking towards the Eiffel Tower shows two nymphs of Seine and in the middle a golden ship.
The ship is a part of the Parisian coat of arms and is placed there to symbolize the French side of the Alliance. On the other side of Pont Alexandre III, one can find two nymphs of the Russian river Neva and in the middle a golden version of the Russian coat of arms. This served as a symbol of the Russian side of the Alliance. The statues were created by George Récipon – the same man who created the statues on top of Grand Palais.
While the copper statues at the arch of the bridge are beautiful, the main feature of Pont Alexandre III is without a doubt the four 17 meters-high pillars with its shining gilded statues. Each one of these statues has a specific name and each one stands for a specific period of Frances history.
On the north bank, the golden statue standing closest to Grand Palais is called “Fame of Agriculture”. The sculpture at the base of the pillar is called “La France pacifique” – ”Peaceful France”. The statue on the Petit Palais side of the north bank is called “Fame of Arts” and the statue at the pillar is called “Charlemagne’s France”.
On the other side of Pont Alexandre III, the pillar closer to the Eiffel Tower Tower is called “Fame of Battle” and the statue at the base “La France de la Renaissance”- “Renaissance of France”.
The last golden statue is called “Fame of War” and the statue at its base is known as “Louis XIV’s France” At each base of the pillars, visitors can see carvings which describe the historic period the specific pillar represents.
An elegant solution
One might think that the main purpose of these pillars is simply to serve as decorations, but this is however not the case. The pillars actually play an important role in making sure that the bridge stays intact, as they act as counterweights for the bridge which provides balance to the structure. The pillars are a simply a smart way of combining something useful with something absolutely beautiful.
Pont Alexandre III location
The bridge can be found between the city’s 7th and 8th arrondissement. The bridge forms the link between Esplanade des Invalides, Avenue Winston Churchill and Champs-Élysées.
Due to its central location, it is easily accessible by foot. For the exact location of Pont Alexandre III, check out the location lap to the right.