Petit-Pont or Small bridge in Paris
The location of the Petit-Pont was where one of the very first bridges over the River Seine was constructed, yet the bridge you can discover today on the left bank going over to the Ile de la Cite island only dates back to 1853.
A bit of history
Julius Caesar mentioned a five arch bridge on the very site of the Petit-Pont during his comments on the Gallic wars, yet it was in the Middle Ages that the first stone piered bridge was constructed, yet this particular bridge was destroyed only six years later in 1196.
Over the following years numerous structures were subsequently constructed, however, all suffered the same fates of either being destroyed by the River Seine flooding, or by ice. And this was the same with a three arch bridge that was constructed during the reign of King Charles VI between 1394 and 1406 that got swept away with floods only months after completion.
But King Charles VI had another bridge constructed that took from 1409 through to 1416 to complete, yet this did manage to survive flood waters etc right up until it was completely destroyed by fire in 1718 and took the houses with it, which had been built on top of the bridge.
After this it was only one year later that a new three arch stone bridge was constructed, but this time, it did not have any houses built on it, and again it survived flooding and ice.
However, the small branch of the River Seine from the left bank over to the Ile de la Cite island was being transformed in the mid 1800s into a properly navigable waterway and the three arches were deemed far too narrow to allow river traffic to negotiate this section, so it was decided that the bridge should be replaced.
About the Petit-Pont
The new Petit-Pont bridge in Paris was designed by the engineer Alexandre Michal as one single arch span over the River Seine, and was started in the March of 1852 and first opened late in 1853.
And with its almost 32m single span as a depressed arc, that was constructed by Ernest Gariel, and it has a corresponding passage for river traffic to that of the Pont au Double, which is located just upstream from this stone bridge.
Today, the Petit-Pont has a roadway for vehicles as well as a path for pedestrians on either side, and although it is a very bland bridge over the River Seine, it has a rich history and is in an ideal location for accessing many tourist attractions in Paris including the fabulous Notre Dame Cathedral.
Visiting the Petit-Pont
The Petit-Pont bridge goes from the Quai Saint Michel on the left bank of the River Seine in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris over to the Quai du Marche Neuf on the Ile de la Cite island.
You will find that the next bridge upstream is the Pont au Double, as we have mentioned earlier, yet the next bridge downstream is the Pont Saint-Michel and the nearest Metro station is called the Saint-Michel stop and the RER station is the Saint-Michel - Notre Dame stop.
However, some of the tours in Paris such as the l’OpenTour buses also travel over the bridge and have stops nearby, plus the Batobus water bus also has a dock on the left bank within walking distance.