Viaduc d’Austerlitz

Viaduc d’Austerlitz

At a quick glance, Viaduc d’Austerlitz appears to be any old metal railway bridge

paris metro bridge viaduc d'austerlitz

 But closer inspection reveals a surprising attention to detail and quite a lot more.

paris bridge viaduc d'austerlitz



The purpose built bridge was designed solely to enable metro trains on line 5 to cross the Seine to and from Gare d’Austerlitz on the left bank to Quai de la Rapée on the right but posed a few problems to be overcome.

paris bridge above ground seine crossing


Traffic on the river ruled out piers and to avoid demolishing buildings on the right bank a sharp curve was created for the metro line, as you see here, to swing around and run parallel to the Seine for a short distance until it descends deep underground after it leaves one of the few above ground stations in Paris; Quai de la Rapée.

paris bridge viaduc d'austerlitz


The construction took only one year to complete.

Opening in 1905 and at the time, it was an engineering feat.

One single span across the river and until Pont Charles-de-Gaulle was built in 1996, it was the largest single span bridge across the river Seine.

But it is this detail that captivated and surprised me.

paris bridge seine river
pont paris bridge viaduc austerlitz

Designed by the same architect responsible for the bridge near the Eiffel Tower Pont de Bir-Hakeim and the gardens below the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur; Jean-Camille Formigé, chose marine themed motifs to embelish the steel bridge with fish feeding on seaweed, sea shells, nautical ropes and of course the Paris Coat of Arms.

abutment paris bridge viaduc austerlitz
pont paris bridge viaduc austerlitz
paris pont bridge viaduc austerlitz

Not even the stone abutments at either end escaped a bit of fancy work.

viaduc austerlitz detail
viaduc dausterlitz
paris bridge

Engineer Louis Biette and civil engineer Fulgence Bienvenüe, who created the metro and is fondly known as the Father of the Metro, avoided demolishing structures on the right bank, designed not only a way to solve the issue of transporting the metro from one side of the Seine to the other but also held a record for 91 years and that was a single span railway bridge across Paris’ river.

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Paris Adèle’s Information Nécessaire :


viaduc d'austerlitz paris seine

Viaduc d’Austerlitz :  12th & 13th arrondissements

Best High View :
Pont Charles de Gaulle
Pont d’Austerlitz

Best Low View :
Left Bank – Quai d’Austerlitz and take stairs down to Seine
(Where I took these photographs)

Right Bank – Port de la Rapée accessed via Voie Mazas

Nearest Metros :
Gare d’Austerlitz on the left bank
Quai de la Rapée on the right bank


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