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November 2, 2013

France: Paris, Pont de Bir-Hakeim

Pont de Bir-Hakeim

Pont de Bir-Hakeim

The Passy and Bir-Hakeim stops on the Paris Metro sit on opposite sides of the Seine just downstream from the Eiffel Tower.  Connecting the two is Pont de Bir-Hakeim, a bridge that carries cars, bikes, dogs, pedestrians, and Metro trains across the flowing water.  The deck of the viaduct offers a great view of the Eiffel Tower away from the clog of tourists that circulate near the base of the iconic tower.

Catching a good view of Eiffel’s folly is not the only reason to visit the Bir-Hakeim.  Used as a backdrop in films such as Last Tango in Paris and Inception, the bridge is worth visiting on its own.  Constructed between 1903 and 1905 as Viaduc de Passy, the bridge’s riveted steel construction displays the stylized Jules Verne character typical of Parisian civil engineering of the era.

Today the bridge is fascinating to wander and explore.   The details Bir-Hakeim’s steelwork merges the practical with the whimsical.  In its day, the bridge’s style was futuristic.  In our day it might be thought of as Steampunk.  No matter the label, Pont de Bir-Hakeim is one of the small bits of urban infrastructure that makes discovering Paris on foot compelling.

Bike lane, Paris style (left) and Eiffel's Tower at night viewed from the bridge (right)

Bike lane, Paris style (left) and Eiffel’s Tower at night viewed from the bridge (right)

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