Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges: No.9 ~ "Pont Saint-Louis"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Bridges

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges
No.9: "Cutest" ~ Pont Saint-Louis - 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.9: "Cutest" Paris Bridge – Pont Saint-Louis

Why the cutest? Coz it's tucked away so sweetly between the two central Paris islands, has no traffic, is always full of street entertainers at the weekend, has great views of Paris, Notre Dame, the PanthéonHotêl de Ville, the impressive Eglise Saint-Gervais, is ideally situated next to legendary Paris ice-cream shop Berthillon... need I go on?

Oh yes, I need, as I've only written one paragraph and need about four or five to call it a real article, sooo..

Among the weird and wonderful characters you'll find doing their streetsy thang is the guy who does incredible stunts on wheels, a mystically garbed character whose paraphernalia-bedecked vehicle claims he 'does' poetry, although I've never heard him recite a line, a fair collection of saxophonists, double-bassists, violinists and gueetar players, dipping and weaving rollerbladers, not forgetting magic shows, jugglers and fire-breathers, living statues, headless accordionists, actual beheadings, human sacrifices, bear-baiting and bull-fighting, to name but a few.

OK, not all of the above are happening all the time, but it's a lively place I can tell you.

The Pont Saint-Louis is another of those with a colourful history of burning-downs, washing-aways and simply collapsing under the strain of all those ice-cream slurping tourists I imagine. Incarnations over the centuries include various wooden bridges, a suspension bridge, a cage-like pedestrian version, arch numbers ranging from one to seven, a metal bridge and the current one, which isn't particularly visually outstanding I'm afraid, which dates from 1970.

Other claims to fame are that it was the starting point for my recent ill-fated 'Island Hopping' Paris Curiosities walk, which only included one island in the end as Ile de la Cité had about 50 fascinating factoids just to itself and we never made it to Ile Saint-Louis which has a similar number of historical anecdotes and oddities to savour.

I also like to think that you can't get any more central-Paris than on the Pont Saint-Louis, despite the fact that 'kilometre zero' is officially in front of Notre Dame. Standing in between these two wonderful islands, you could imagine that you're actually in the centre of the world, but maybe that would be drifting dangerously close to what the French would call nombrilisme, or 'tummy-button gazing', for our own good. The temptation's there though.

ADDENDUM: The last time I went past here, it looked like in the last picture. Not so cute. But I suppose it's so it'll come back even cuter than before. Paris is fairly good at that sort of thing.


* 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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