Let me convince you to put on your list of places to see these magnificent bridges in France.
I have already seen some amazing bridges of France and I can tell you: they are really worth to be seen and visited. Others, I have seen on photos and I’m dreaming of going to see. If time and money weren’t a limit, I would have already! But nevertheless, I want to present you the most beautiful 10 bridges of France which you should see.
- Millau Viaduct. The best of the best! And I haven’t visited it yet! It is a cable-stayed bridge crossing the valley of Tarn, in Aveyron Brought into service in December 2004, the structure receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year: tourists, architecture enthusiasts, journalists as well as motorists. Why? Because it is impressive! It holds the world record for the tallest bridge, culminating at 343 metres (higher than the Eiffel tower), 2460 metres long and touching the bottom of the Tarn valley in only 9 places. It is the second largest bridge after the New York one. The viaduct have been built in 3 years, but preparations for the project took 14. The first discussions on the crossing of the Tarn near Millau took place in 1987. Millau viaduct constitutes the most spectacular link in La Méridienne: the A75 motorway, linking Clermont-Ferrand with Béziers and Narbonne, which is the least congested and cheapest route between Paris and the Mediterranean.
- Pont du Gard. It is one of the most visited ancient monuments in France with more than one million visitors a year. I was one of them. Luckily! Yes, I had a chance to visit this magnificent monument in France. The Pont du Gard is the most beautiful Roman aqueduct in France, and probably the whole world. Crossing the Gardon at the locality of Vers-Pont-du-Gard, it served, from the 1st to the 4th century, to carry water from a spring near Uzes to Nimes. Composed of three floors, it is 360 meters long at its summit has a height of 48 meters. Pont du Gard has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for 30 years and has been awarded the Grand Site de France label since 2004. It is located near Nîmes, Uzés and Avignon, in the heart of a region with a rich historical heritage.
- Viaduct of Morlaix. It is the 14-arch monument of the 58m high and 285m long, located in Brittany. The viaduct of Morlaix allows the crossing of the river Morlaix and the service of the station of the city by the line of Paris-Montparnasse to Brest. It was built in 1861 during the construction of the railway line Rennes-Brest. As part of the allied strategic bombing, on January 29, 1943, eight American fighter-bombers from the Royal Air Force dropped 43 bombs, killing eighty people, including thirty-nine kindergarten children and their mistress. A single bomb damaged the viaduct, which was quickly repaired. Nowadays, the viaduct of Morlaix offers guided tours and illuminations throughout the year.
- Alexandre III Bridge. It is one of the most emblematic bridges in the city of Paris. Located on the Seine between the 7th and 8th arrondissement, it was inaugurated on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition in 1900. Aimed at celebrating Franco-Russian friendship, the first stone was laid in 1896 by Tsar Nicolas II, son of Alexander III! 160 meters long, it is decorated with many sculptures, making it a monument of the capital. At its four extremities, there are huge 17 metre-high pylons crowned with gilt bronze sculptures of winged horses representing the illustrious Arts, Sciences, Commerce and Industry. Pont Alexandre III connects the Invalides on the Left Bank to the Grand Palais and Petit Palais on the Right Bank. From the bridge you can enjoy a view of these buildings as well as the Eiffel Tower. Stunning!
- Le Pont du Diable à Olargues . It is a stone bridge at the bottom end of the Hérault gorges which was built between 1028 and 1031 by the two abbeys of Aniane and Gellone. This is one of the oldest Romanesque bridges in France and it is kept in excellent condition. Today, it is an ideal place which proposes visits, excursions, hiring of canoes and animations around the bridge, as well as bathe on the gorges of the Hérault.The Devil’s Bridge is located in Olargues, which is one of the most beautiful villages in France. The Devil’s Bridge owes its name to the difficulty that its construction represented at the time. Located in a steep valley, it spans the Jaur. Its Romanesque architecture (twelfth century) fits nicely into the landscape. It is classified as a historical monument since 1916. The Pont du Diable is listed as a World Heritage Site on the Route of Santiago de Compostela in France. It’s also part of a UNESCO World Heritage Super-Site, grouped with St Guilhem-le-Désert, St Guilhem-le-Désert Abbey and the Hérault Gorges. There are many Ponts du Diable (Devil’s Bridges) in France, and they often share the same legend: The villagers want a bridge so badly they call on the Devil for assistance. Their pleas are answered by Old Nick, but with the condition that the first soul to cross the bridge would be taken by the Devil. When the bridge is built nobody wants to cross the bridge, sometimes for many years, unless the need is desperate. In the Hérault department there are two other Ponts du Diable, the second one is located in Villemagne-l’Argentière (40 km east of Béziers). Another bridge known as Pont du Diable is the Pont Valentré: the main Medieval bridge in Cahors. Further east in Provence is the little Pont du Diable in the village of Signes in the Var. It seems that the French were desperate for the bridges…
- Pont d’Avignon. It is a very famous medieval bridge in the town of Avignon, in southern France. It is also known as the Saint-Bénézet bridge. Built in the 12th century by a young shepherd, it is the first bridge built on the Rhone between Lyon and the sea. Several times, it was destroyed by the floods of the river until to be abandoned in the 17th century as the arches tended to collapse each time the Rhône flooded making it very expensive to maintain. Four arches and the gatehouse at the Avignon end of the bridge have survived. The Chapel of Saint Nicholas sits on the second pier of the bridge. The bridge was the inspiration for the song Sur le pont d’Avignon and is considered a landmark of the city. In 1995, the surviving arches of the bridge, together with the Palais des Papes and Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms were classified as a World Heritage Site.
- Le Pont Transbordeur de Rochefort. This is the last transhipment bridge in France, also called Matrou Bridge. Located in Rochefort, in the department of Charente-Maritime, it was inaugurated in 1900. The main objective of this bridge is, as its name indicates, to tranship people and goods from one bank to another of the Charente. Rochefort-Martrou Transporter Bridge is 50 meters high and 175.5 meters long. This crossing system was innovative at the time of its construction, it was a more reliable and efficient alternative to the ferry, especially in bad weather conditions. Today, a bridge ensures the crossing a few meters further, but the nacelle continues to transport the curious who wish to try the adventure.
- Le Pont Vieux . It is located in Orthez, in the Pyrénées Atlantiques. This is one of the most beautiful fortified bridges in France. Formerly, there was an arch in the middle, symbolizing the union of the two cities. It no longer exists, but there remains a stone cross, with a little carved Christ, a little puddled, and especially very damaged. The Old Bridge is certainly one of the most romantic places in the city. Built in the middle of the eleventh century, the Pont-Vieux, 150 m long, contributed to the urban and commercial development of the city. It included, in the Middle Ages a fortified gate-tower, a chapel and a drawbridge. From the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, houses rested on its piles but have been demolished after a flood dating from 1766. In 1820, its causeway has been straightened and enlarged. The bridge was then covered with bricks. It has always been one of the determining factors of urban prosperity.
- Le viaduc de Viaur. The viaduct of Viaur is one of the most beautiful railway works of art in France. Built between 1897 and 1902, between the municipalities of Tauriac-de-Naucelle in the Aveyron and Tanus in the Tarn, it is part of the section connecting Rodez to Albi. It dominates the small river of Viaur from its height of 116 meters, all for a total length of 460 meters. This steel bridge is composed of two balanced and articulated cantilever beams, each extended by a short beam with a constant section and a two-arched masonry abutment. The central arc is formed of two symmetrical frames which are braced, in the middle of the bridge, by an articulated key. It is the only bridge of this type in France. This technique allows the free deformation of the central arc, under the influence of the loads supported during train passes, temperature variations and wind. 3800 tons of steel and 4000 m3 of masonry. The viaduct Viaur was the subject of an architectural competition in 1887, open to engineers: 8 projects were presented, including one from Gustave Eiffel. It was finally the project presented by Paul Bodin, engineer at the Batignolles society and professor at the Ecole Centrale, who was selected. Since 1984, the viaduct of Viaur has been registered as a historical monument. There are picturesque hiking trails from Tauriac de Naucelle and Tanus which allow you to appreciate it from all angles and 3 belvederes to take a picture of it.
- Le Viaduc de Garabit. The Garabit Viaduct is a railway arch bridge spanning the Truyère, near Ruynes-en-Margeride, Cantal, in the mountainous Massif Central region. The bridge was constructed between 1882 and 1884 by Gustave Eiffel and was opened in 1885. It is 565 m in length and has a principal arch of 165 m. The Garabit viaduct is the architectural masterpiece which links the railway Béziers to Neussargues. Its unique metal arch, which rounds out over the Truyère Gorges, is easily recognizable, thanks to its red color which contrasts with the green of the surrounding vegetation. The viaduct is now listed as a historic monument. Since the end of 2017, an application procedure at UNESCO has brought together 6 high-arched metal viaducts in Germany, Italy, Portugal and France. The viaduct of Garabit and viaduct of Viaur represent the French part.
BONUS: My beloved Lyon has a lot of beautiful bridges. The most famous bridge of Lyon, it is La passerelle Saint-Georges. The St. George Bridge dates from the mid-nineteenth century. Destroyed by the Germans in 1944, it was rebuilt in its original form after the war. It’s a bit like the Pont des Arts in Paris because lovers of Lyon come to hang padlocks of love. In 2003, it was renamed the gateway Paul Couturier in honor of a Lyon priest of the first half of the twentieth century, pioneer of ecumenism.
Me personally, I love the Passerelle Masaryk. This suspension bridge, funded by the residents and opened to the public on May 17, 1831, is simply beautiful! It was originally bridge Vaise or bridge station Vaise with reference to the water station in use in this district in 1827. It has almost identical construction as the bridge Ile-Barbe which is also very beautiful. It was, in fact, built shortly after the bridge Ile Barbe and with the same technical construction. Its elegant silhouette has not changed since the original appearance and is the oldest of all the bridge piers of the city. It is also one of the heritage of this part of the city which marks the entrance to the urban heart of Lyon. And lastly, I want to bring your attention to the latest, the most modern bridge created in Lyon: Pont Schuman. This new crossing of the Saône was completed in 2014 to connect the Vaise neighbourhood (in the 9th arrondissement) to Serin (in the 4th arrondissement). This new bridge, named after Robert Schuman, was built upstream of the Pont Masaryk, which is restricted to pedestrian and cyclist use only. The Pont Schuman is built as an extension of the Rue de la Gare d’Eau.
So will you agree? These are truly magnificent bridges of France and you are now putting them on the list of places you want to see? Also, if you have other recommendations for any beautiful bridges you have seen or heard of, please share with me. I’m looking for inspirations …as always. Thank you!