Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges: No.7 ~ "Pont de Bir-Hakeim"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Bridges

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges
No.7: "Most Eiffelist" ~ Pont de Bir-Hakeim - 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.7: "Eiffelist" Paris Bridge – Pont de Bir-Hakeim

The west Paris 'metro on a bridge' bridge. Because there are others too, y'know!
This isn't actually the bridge which leads directly to the Eiffel Tower itself, which would be the Pont d'Iéna, but it's a bridge I've crossed over many times, and I can never resist casting a glance over, just to make sure Lady Eiffel's still going strong.

I'm not alone, as numerous movies have used this bridge to place countless actors in scenes which needed a romantic view of the Eiffel Tower passing a train window, often which highly dubious logic, such as journeys supposedly heading for the south of France, whilst line 6 of the Paris metro, which the Pont de Bir-Hakeim enables to cross the river, does nothing of the sort. The sci-fi movie Inception with Leo Dicaprio is the latest to exploit this unique setting.

Be that as it may, the bridge itself not only provides a glorious view of the city's icon, but is in itself a great example of turn of the century riveted steel engineering supremacy.

The bridge dates back to the early 1900s and possesses a highly distinctive characteristic: a typical roadway, surmounted by an aerial metro line, which not only provides for an impressive site in itself but also affords great views from the train into the bargain.

There's always something wonderful happening on the bridges of Paris...
It was originally, and boringly, called the Pont de Passy, as it lead to this 16th arrondissement village-within-the-city. The name was changed in 1948, however, to commemorate the North African Battle of... Bir Hakeim in 1942.

Whether the battle was really a victory for anyone seems to be a highly moot point, as both sides claimed a victory for propaganda purposes at least. I've never been able to pronounce the thing in any case, as my arabic isn't that strong.

Bizarrely, there's another battle raging in Libya as I type here in 2011, this time so-called 'rebels' (gotta be so careful with words these days!) are in the last stages of toppling the Gaddafi regime. This time it's chemical weapons people are worried will be unleashed as the outgoing tyrants drag out their death throes. Paris hasn't got a Pont de Tripoli yet, has it?


* 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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