Passerelle Leopold Sedar Senghor footbridge in Paris
Formerly the Passerelle Solferino or the Pont Solferino, this is a pedestrian bridge constructed between 1997 and 1999, then renamed in 2006 in memory of Leopold Sedar Senghor, who was a writer, politician and served as the first president of Senegal for two decades.
A bit of history
At the location of the current bridge, there was originally a cast iron bridge constructed which was then inaugurated by Napoleon III back in 1861, and this was named after the French victory in 1859 at the Battle of Solferino, and hence the name became the Pont Solferino.
However, over the years there were several barges that had crashed into it and the whole structure had become weakened and by 1961 it had been deemed unsafe, so this original bridge was demolished and replaced with a new steel pedestrian bridge, and then became known as the Passerelle Solferino.
But during the 1990s there was a Grand Louvre project to improve the area and provide better facilities for tourists visiting Paris, and a part of this project was to have a new bridge constructed over the River Seine, as the Passerelle Solferino was demolished in 1992.
About Passerelle Solferino
The design chosen was by the architect and engineer Marc Mimram who had already worked on several different projects in France, and financed by the French state, the Passerelle Solferino was started in 1997. And in fact, Marc Mimram has gone on to do other projects in Paris including the Complexe Piscine Patinoire, a National Tennis training centre and a new court at the Roland Garros Stadium.
But getting back to this bridge, which links the Orsay Museum with the Tuileries Gardens, the footbridge was constructed in steel by the Eiffel company that was founded by Gustave Eiffel who designed and constructed the most famous landmark in Paris of the Eiffel Tower.
After being completed in 1999, it was inaugurated on Wednesday, 15th December in the same year in the presence of dignitaries and politicians including the Minister of Culture and Communication and the Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Housing.
About Passerelle Leopold Sedar Senghor
Now it was actually in 2006 that the Passerelle Solferino had a change of name to that of Passerelle Leopold Sedar Senghor in memory of a Senegalese writer, poet and politician, who was also the first president of Senegal for two decades. He was also the first African to be elected a member of the Academie Francaise.
So, having died in 2001 and being recognised as one of the major African intellectuals of the 20th century, the Passerelle Leopold Sedar Senghor was inaugurated on 9th October 2006, which was on the centenary of his birth.
You will find when looking at the Passerelle Leopold Sedar Senghor, that it is a contemporary designed footbridge, which goes from one bank to the other in a span of 106 metres, yet does not touch the River Seine at all. And constructed of steel, it is made up of around 150 tons of components, and the foundations at either end are made of reinforced concrete.
But this footbridge in Paris also utilises exotic woods like that from a Brazilian tree for its decking, which is also used on outside flooring at the Bibliotheque National de France library, so it provides a warm feel as you walk across.
And being architecturally unique in its design, it was a major feat of engineering and imagination to come up with a design that has a subterranean element to it so part of it is covered, yet you can also see through to the River Seine flowing below. Plus there are benches to sit and relax, and it is accessible from the upper and lower platforms.
Visiting Passerelle Leopold Sedar Senghor
You will find this contemporary styled bridge in Paris located between the Quai des Tuileries on the right bank of the River Seine in the 1st Arrondissement going over to the left bank at the Quai Anatole France in the 7th Arrondissement. And it is at this end you will find the statue of Thomas Jefferson and the Musee d’Orsay museum in Paris.
The next bridge over the River Seine looking upstream is the Pont Royal and the next one downstream is the Pont de la Concorde, and there are numerous different Tourist attractions in Paris that are located in this area of the city, which means that getting here is easy.
So when it comes to public transport in Paris you have the Musee d’Orsay stop serving line C of the RER and on the same bank yet opposite side of the Passerelle Leopold Sedar Senghor is the Assemblee Nationale Metro station serving line 12. Alternatively, on the opposite bank you have the Concorde Metro stop serving lines 1, 8 and 12.
However, there is also a Batobus water bus docking stop located reasonably near, plus the bus numbers 68, 83 and 94 will get you close by, as will the l’OpenTour, which are the sightseeing buses providing a hop on and hop off service for tours in Paris.