Pont au Double bridge in Paris

The Pont au Double takes its name from an early bridge that was constructed back in the 1600s, however, the bridge you can see today going over the River Seine to the Ile de la Cite was only constructed in the latter part of the 1800s.

A bit of history

It was way back during the reign of King Francis I that people were requesting a bridge be constructed over the River Seine to go the Ile de la Cite, however, it was not until the start of the 1600s when the Hotel Dieu hospital on the island was getting so overcrowded that a bridge was finally decided upon.
Pont au Double Paris
It was the architect, Gamard, who designed the structure to go over the smaller branch of the River Seine to link two buildings on either side so that patients could be carried over to the hospital, and work started in 1626 in a position where the hospital wards look over the bridge.

It was decided that the public would have to pay a toll to cross the bridge in order to fund the work, and the amount decided upon was a double farthing, which is where the name Pont au Double derived from.

Some time ago at the base of the Double bridge, there was once a staircase that used to go down to the bank of River Seine, which is what the nuns from the hospital would use in order to do the washing of the sick and infirm, and these nuns became known as the Little Washerwomen.

However, unfortunately the bridge collapsed at the start of the 1700s and another was put in place, and there were several reconstructed from this time, all with the same name of Pont au Double, even though the Hotel Dieu eventually closed in 1835, but the bridge still remained for several years after.

About the Pont au Double

It was not until the start of the 1880s it was decided that a new bridge should be constructed at this point from the left bank of the River Seine going over to the Ile de la Cite, and this was entirely different from previous bridges.

The Pont au Double that you can see today was constructed in 1882, and made of cast iron it has one single arch made up of two cast iron arcs and steel struts, and the arch itself is approximately 30 metres.

And it is in a fabulous location offering great views of Notre Dame Cathedral, plus, being only approximately 20 metres wide, this is also only utilised by pedestrians and cyclists, so you do not worry about having to negotiate any traffic.
Metal frame of Pont au Double
Pedestrians on the Pont au Double

Visiting the Pont au Double Bridge

You will find the Pont au Double located between the Quai de Montebello on the left bank in the historical Latin Quarter of the 5th Arrondissement going over the River Seine to the Ile de la Cite and the Promenade Maurice Careme right by the Notre Dame Cathedral and the square in front that holds the statue of Charlemaine.

And if you look upstream towards the tip of the island nearest the Ile Saint Louis, you will see the Pont de l’Archeveche, which is now often referred to as the Lovers Bridge where people attach padlocks to its railings.  Yet downstream you have another couple of bridges in Paris before reaching the famous Pont Neuf at the opposite end of the island.

Now when it comes to reaching the Pont au Double pedestrian bridge, you have two Metro stations in the Latin Quarter within walking distance called the Maubert - Mutualite stop and the Cluny - La Sorbonne stop line 10, whereas the nearest station on the island is called Cite that serves line 4.
Pont au Double pedestrian bridge
However, if you are travelling on the RER trains, then you would need the Saint Michel - Notre Dame stop being line B or C, but alternatively, you could also utilise the Batobus water bus service, which has a stop very close by as well.

Also you can chose to use the public buses in Paris by looking for bus lines 21, 24, 27, 38, 85 and  96, along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via lines N12, N13, N14, N15 N21 and N22.