Pont de Bercy
Pont de Bercy is one of my favourite bridges in Paris, but sadly, often overlooked.
Unusual for Paris, this double decker bridge, taking metro line number 6 overhead, pedestrians and cyclists underneath and vehicular traffic either side, which sounds messy but it still manages to be beautiful, striking and yet, very functional.
Golden accents highlight the balustrading, laurel wreaths decorate the top of each pier and my guesstimate is hundreds of elegant lamps hang at the centre of each and every arch on either side of the bridge.
If you enjoy photography, choose the right time of the day to capture the sun hitting the arches under the viaduct casting dramatic light, shadows and silhouettes.
When the area of Bercy was still outside the city limits of Paris, there was only a ferry to cart people back and forth from the right bank to the left and became increasingly over crowded.
The original bridge, under the watch of King Louis Philippe was completed in 1832 and charged a toll. No one escaped the fee, whether you travelled by horse and cart or on foot.
By 1861, now under the watch of Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann’s transformation of the City of Paris, the amount of traffic on the bridge called for a more robust one, it was then the new bridge took on the name, Pont de Bercy and was completed in 1864.
Forty years later, in 1904, Pont de Bercy was enlarged to accommodate the metro above.
It took another 78 years until a competition was put in place in 1982 for a design proposition to enlarge the bridge once again, due to the burgeoning traffic.
Thankfully, the winner, Christian Langlois, proposed to keep the bridge’s elements the same but widening it for traffic flow on either side and this time using reinforced concrete with a stone veneer, being faithful to the bridge’s original appearance.
Three years later, work began and by 1992 the new Pont de Bercy was allowing commuters to travel from the 12th arrondissement on the right bank to the 13th on the left.
Pont de Bercy is useful if you are attending a concert at the Bercy Arena, want to wander the surrounding gardens of Bercy, visit the floating, heated swimming pool, Piscine Joséphine Baker, named after the entertainer with the swinging banana skirt or want to explore the modern national library on the left bank in the 13th arrondissement.
But most of all, take a moment to admire this wonderful bridge.
Paris has many hidden treasures, you just need to know where to find them.
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