Saturday, 8 October 2011

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges: No.4 ~ "Pont Alexandre III"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Bridges

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges
No.4: "Most Pretentious" ~ Pont Alexandre III - Introduction
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

Forget your most beautiful, forget your most romantic (with one or two notable exceptions), here I offer you an alternative take on the age old problem: how not to end up writing unpalatable, purple prose-tinted, nauseating gush when talking about Paris and its good old Mère Seine.

The approach I’ve taken for my Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges may not be new, for all I know, and I've certainly seen another list or two of the Top Ten Paris bridges, but the angle taken, bless them, is invariably eulogistic. Homages to hurl to, if you will.

I wanted to try something different, so I took a bunch of Paris bridges with what I considered notable characteristics and ramped them up to the giddy heights of ‘most’.

Whence the list below, where I offer you the most artistic, the most pretentious (go on, guess before looking, I’m sure you’ll get it) and yes, I couldn’t resist, the most romantic bridges in Paris, to name but a few. So go ahead and get out there; maybe I'll cross you on the Seine one of these days.

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges

No.4: "Most Pretentious" Paris Bridge – Pont Alexandre III

Love it or loathe it, there’s no escaping this prime piece of post-Napoleonic pomp. Of course it's impressive, with its enormous gilded statues and superb views of the Grand and Petit Palais in one direction and Les Invalides in the other.

The Pont Alexandre III is surprisingly recent, dating only from the turn of the last century, and named after the then Tzar who had signed the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892 and good for him - he got a bloody great show-off bridge for his troubles! Unfortunately he died in 1894, a few years before the completion of the bridge in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition along with the aforementioned Petit Palais and Grand Palais, the style of which it closely resembles.

For a structure so traditional-seeming, the lamps, for example, are decidedly Art Nouveau, although the statues at each end retain a classical feel. Just for the record, the golden Pegasus-restraining figures atop the four massive corner columns, which counterbalance the huge single arch, are known as 'Fames' (Renommées) representing the sciences, the arts, industry and commerce.

At the base of the columns are representative females (why females... I've always wondered) for various historical epochs: Contemporary France, the France of Charlemagne, the France of Louis XIV and the France of the Renaissance. They only get a bit of gold, restricted to the assorted orbs, sceptres, crosses, swords or whatnot they're brandishing. I could go on, as there are some pretty impressive central sculptures too, but I guess you get the idea. I love it for what it is, and the simple fact that it exists and makes Paris what it is. This particular part of Paris is without doubt one of the most opulent and ornate you could wish to find, of that I have to concur with the sychophantic top ten lists.


* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

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