The Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir Footbridge in Paris
This is an unusual and eye catching bridge over the River Seine, which was named after a French writer and first opened in 2006, it is purely for pedestrians and cyclists.
A bit of history
A competition was launched just before the year 2000 for the design of a new bridge in Paris that would link the Parc de Bercy in the 12th Arrondissement and the Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterand Library in the 13th Arrondissement.
Eventually, the unusual and technically demanding design chosen was an innovative footbridge by the Austrian architect, Dietmar Feichtinger, who then went on to design the longest arch footbridge in the world between France and Germany over the River Rhine and another pedestrian bridge over the causeway to the Mont Saint Michel in France.
A rather uninspiring name was originally thought of, which was to be the Pont Bercy-Tolbiac bridge and work started in 2004, with the centre part of the bridge known as the eye, or lens, being constructed in one whole section at the Eiffel Company.
And you may recognise the name, as this company was founded by Gustave Eiffel who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, yet it was this company that also constructed the Statue of Liberty now located in New York Harbour, the Millau Viaduct, the Louvre Pyramid and many others.
Now getting back to this bridge in Paris, this eye itself is 106 metres long, 12 metres wide and is constructed with 550 tons of steel, and was transported in one complete module from Alsace through the canals and rivers where it crossed Paris by barge in the November of 2005. Eventually, it was hoisted into place in the January of 2006.
It was then in the March of 2005 that the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, proposed the name of Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir after the French writer, and this new pedestrian bridge over the River Seine was finally completed and inaugurated on 13th July 2006 with a ceremony that included the adoptive daughter of Simone de Beauvoir.
About the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir
The Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir footbridge goes from the Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterand over to the Parc de Bercy and spans 304 metres over the River Seine with two curves that intersect.
And these unusual curves along with the eye or lens in the middle section known as a vesica, make this lenticular truss bridge a major technical achievement and a modern tourist attraction in Paris. Plus it is an incredible feat of engineering, especially when you consider that there are no supports within the River Seine supporting the structure.
Visiting the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir in Paris
You will find the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir bridge going from the left bank in the 13th Arrondissement by the square in front of the Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterand, which is also known as the Bibliotheque National de France, over to the 12th Arrondissement and the Parc de Bercy.
Also this footbridge connects the Quai Francois Mauriac to Quai de Bercy with its two different levels of access.
But because of this unusual design it is also very popular with rollerbladers and skateboarders due to its curved structure and slopes created by its different levels, however, there is also a lift at each end in order to get to the top level to access directly into the park or square.
And you will discover the next bridge upstream from the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir is the Pont de Tolbiac, yet the next bridge downstream, as though you were heading back towards the Ile Saint Louis and Ile de la Cite islands, is the Pont de Bercy.
However, we would like to point out that sometimes during extremely bad weather, the bridge is closed for peoples safety, which is due to the type of decking and its gradients.
Yet when it comes to public transport in Paris, the nearest Metro stations are the Quai de la Gare or Bercy stops via line 6, or the Cour Saint-Emilion stop via line 14. However, the Biblioteque Francois-Mitterand stop is also on line 14, plus this is an RER train station serving line C as well.