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The Pont des Arts or Passerelle des Arts is a pedestrian bridge in Paris which crosses the River Seine. It links the Institut de France (seen here in the background) and the central square of the Palais du Louvre, which had been termed the "Palais des Arts" under the First French Empire.

Between 1802 and 1804, under the reign of Napoleon I, a nine-arch metallic bridge for pedestrians was constructed at the location of the present day Pont des Arts: this was the first metal bridge in Paris. The engineers Louis-Alexandre de Cessart and Jacques Dillon initially conceived of a bridge which would resemble a suspended garden, with trees, banks of flowers, and benches.

In 1976, the Inspector of Bridges and Causeways (Ponts et Chaussées) reported several deficiencies on the bridge. More specifically, he noted the damage that had been caused by two aerial bombardments sustained during World War I and World War II and the harm done from the multiple collisions caused by boats. The bridge was closed in 1977 and, in 1979, suffered a 60 metre collapse after a barge rammed into it.

The present bridge was built between 1981 and 1984 "identically" according to the plans of Louis Arretche, who had decided to reduce the number of arches from nine to seven, allowing the look of the old bridge to be preserved while realigning the new structure with the Pont Neuf. On 27 June 1984, the newly reconstructed bridge was inaugurated by Jacques Chirac, then the mayor of Paris.

The bridge has sometimes served as a place for art exhibitions, and is today a studio en plein air for painters, artists and photographers who are drawn to its unique point of view. The Pont des Arts is also frequently a spot for picnics during the summer.

In recent years, many tourist couples have taken to attaching padlocks with their first names written or engraved on it to the railing or the grate on the side of the bridge, then throwing the key into the Seine river below, as a romantic gesture said to represent a couple's committed love. The City of Paris has not yet adopted a definitive policy on how to deal with this new fad. The French police have been known to patrol this bridge to stop keys from being thrown into the river.

At the time of my visit part of the railing had collapsed under the weight of the padlocks and had been taped off. This did not seem to deter people from adding new ones; indeed there was at least one man on the bridge selling them!

(Source: Wikipedia)

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Additional Photos by Stephen Nunney (snunney) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6111 W: 61 N: 17754] (79973)
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