The bridges that currently hold the city together were mostly built from stone centuries back. In fact, the oldest bridge in Paris, ironically called Le Pont Neuf (The New Bridge), was first designed in 1556. As a result, the overall style of Paris’ bridges tends to hint at its historic legacy and ancient past. However, Paris now plans to completely revamp this image by building three new futuristic bridges over the River Seine that break away from traditional designs.
The main difference between the existing Parisian bridges and the futuristic plans is that the new structures will be reserved for pedestrians only. Out of the 37 bridges spanning the Seine in Paris, only five are free of cars. Some forms of ‘soft’ modes of transport, like pushbikes and non-electric scooters, may also be allowed to use the crossings. However, unlike the current bridges that often inspire scenes of utter chaos with congested traffic, there will be strictly no transport allowed on the new bridges.
The second major change is that the new bridges will be much greener and will include gardens and trees. With the pressure of climate change, the city of Paris understands that urban surfaces must be adapted. The idea is that as gardens and trees grow, they help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air. It’s an initiative this city actually pioneered. With more than 400 parks and gardens, Paris is the greenest capital in Europe.
According to the plans, two of the new walkways are to bridge the Seine between the 12th and 13th arrondissements, creating a new district of Bercy-Charenton, and between the 4th and 5th arrondissements, near the Tino Rossi Garden. The third bridge will be built to the west between the 15th and 16th arrondissements, not too far from the André-Citroën Park. There will also be a swathe of new shops and even offices built, ensuring the French capital is brought into the 21st century once and for all.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has suggested these moves might revive Paris’ 18th-century tradition of merchants setting up shop on bridges. Although, as one city official claimed, there’s “nothing like it anywhere in the world as far as we know,” and so we can’t know for sure. They may well resemble Florence’s Ponte Vecchio, bustling with jewelry shops and art stores, but the style is likely to be more of a city plaza.
The Paris mayor is no stranger to welcoming new ways of innovating in the city. For example, the Reinvent the Seine project (Reinventer la Seine) will see 13 abandoned spaces in the greater Paris region of Île-de-France completely transformed into meeting spots and eco-friendly co-working spaces.
After three failed attempts to host the world’s most epic sporting event, Paris has finally been awarded the Olympic Games it deserves. And so, the plan to build new futuristic bridges figures as just one example of the huge-scale construction work that will soon be changing the face of Paris. The city will host the Olympics in 2024.