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  • Métro - Line 1 - Station : Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre
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Pont Royal
Quai François Mitterrand - Quai Anatole France
75001 Paris

Coordinates Latitude Longitude
Sexagesimal (°, ', ") 48° 51′ 39″ N 2° 19′ 49″ E
Degré décimal (GPS) 48.86058 2.33026
Description complète

The Royal Bridge is the 3rd oldest bridge of Paris after the Pont Neuf (the oldest) and the nearby Pont Mary. All three are classified as historical monuments.

Royal bridge origin

Its origin is an accident. At its location was the Tuileries ferry (which gave the name to the current "rue du Bac"). Louis XIII (1601-1643), while walking in the neighborhood, witnessed the capsizing of the ferry and decided to build a bridge at this location.

The vicissitudes of the first bridge of 1632

It was a wooden toll bridge which will be called "Pont Sainte-Anne" (in reference to Anne of Austria), "Pont Rouge" (because of its color), or "Pont Le Barbier" (from the name of a financier who paid for).
Fragile, this fifteen-arch bridge was repaired for the first time in 1649, completely rebuilt two years later, burned down in 1654, and was washed away in 1656. The bridge was rebuilt again in 1660 in wood, consolidated in 1673, and finally swept away by the break-up of the ice on the night of February 28-29, 1684. Madame de Sévigné (French writer) reports this destruction and writes: "The Red Bridge was leaving for Saint-Cloud". The bridge lost eight of its arches during this event. It was replaced between October 25, 1685, and June 13, 1689, by a stone bridge entirely financed by King Louis XIV, which earned it the name "Pont Royal".

The stone Royal bridge of 1689 throughout history

In the 18th century, it was a favorite place for all kinds of Parisian parties and festivities.

On July 11, 1791, during the Revolution, the procession carrying the ashes of Voltaire (Writer) passes by the bridge.

After the French Revolution, between 1792 and 1804, the bridge was renamed "Pont National", then "Pont des Tuileries", until 1814.

It was here that Napoleon Bonaparte had the cannons used to defend the Tuileries Palace, where the National Convention and the Public Salvation Committee led by Maximilien de Robespierre sat (October 5, 1795).

The thickness of the key of the central bay was reduced in 1852, to limit the stiffness of the accesses to the bridge.

In 1939, it was classified as a historical monument. It is the 3rd oldest bridge of Paris after the Pont Neuf and the Pont Marie also classified as historical monuments.

It was illuminated in 2005, on the occasion of Paris' bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

Technical data and innovations of the Royal Bridge

The 1st bridges built there have been a king of experimental bridges which finally ended destroyed.

On the contrary, the last bridge of 1689 made of stones, was precisely sized and calculated. Construction rules were defined and used in the design of later bridges.

  • Number of spans: 5 spans with a central arch of 72 feet (23.40 m), intermediate arches of 69 feet (22.42 m), and bank arches of 64 feet (20.80 m)
  • Grade of bridge piers
  • Ratio of pier thickness to span opening: In the case of the Royal Bridge, the architect set this ratio at 5. This ratio depends on the span size of the spans. It must allow the arches to be decurved one after the other without risk to the stability of the piers. The thickness of all piers is 14 feet (4.55 m)
  • Shape of the vaults: on the Royal Bridge, the architect imposed a 3-center basket-handle vault. This choice will then be imposed on all the bridges. The vaults are lowered to one-third or 24 feet for a 72-foot opening.
  • The materials used: hard stones from Saint-Cloud below low water; hard stones from Bagneux for the piers up to the birth of the vaults, their spouts and copings, at the heads of the vaults and their spandrels, at the coronation cords, parapets, and curbs; stones from Vergelet for the body of the vaults; rubble from Vaugirard or from the faubourg Saint-Jacques for the filling of the vaults and the abutments.
  • The composition of the mortars (Émiland Gauthey, in his Traité des Ponts, writes that for the first time in France, techniques brought to construction by the Roman friar were used).
  • Use of dredgers for the construction of the foundation soil of the piers ;
  • Use of caissons for the foundations;
  • The specifications for the Royal Bridge were used as a model for those of the Jacques-Gabriel de Blois Bridge.

The particularity of the Royal Bridge is also the sobriety of its decoration.

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