Pont Neuf


in The Islands

Paris’ oldest bridge, misguidingly named 'New Bridge', has linked the western end of Île de la Cité with both riverbanks since 1607, when the king, Henri IV, inaugurated it by crossing the bridge on a white stallion. View the bridge’s arches (seven on the northern stretch and five on the southern span), decorated with 381 mascarons (grotesque figures) depicting barbers, dentists, pickpockets, loiterers etc, from a spot along the river or afloat.

The inaugural crossing is commemorated by an equestrian statue of Henri IV, known to his subjects as the Vert Galant (‘jolly rogue’ or ‘dirty old man’, perspective depending).

Pont Neuf and nearby place Dauphine were used for public exhibitions in the 18th century. In the last century the bridge became an objet d’art in 1963, when School of Paris artist Nonda built, exhibited and lived in a huge Trojan horse of steel and wood on the bridge; in 1985 when Bulgarian-born ‘environmental sculptor’ Christo famously wrapped the bridge in beige fabric; and in 1994 when Japanese designer Kenzo covered it with flowers.