Friday, October 06, 2006

About the Pont MARIE

Owing to disagreements between the owners of the houses and the administration responsible for bridge maintenance, the structure quickly fell into disrepair and during the night of 1st March 1658, the Seine in flood carried off both arches on the Ile Saint-Louis side along with the twenty houses built on them. This disaster claimed sixty lives, quite apart from the loss of property and buildings. It was only in 1660 that a wooden bridge restored a link, along with a toll-gate in order to finance the rebuilding of the stone structure. This only began in 1667 after Colbert intervened and the two arches were at last finished in 1670. The houses were not however rebuilt. Indeed the memory of the disaster of 1658 led to the demolition of other houses in 1740, fearing a further accident due to flooding. The decision taken in 1769 to do away with all constructions on the bridges of Paris led to their complete disappearance in 1788.

The Pont Marie was one of the group of three bridges designed to open up the Ile Saint-Louis when its urbanisation began in the 17th century. It joins the island to the right bank and is the counterpart to the Pont de la Tournelle, along the same axis but on the left bank side. This system was completed by the Pont Saint-Louis joining up with the Ile de la Cité. This bridge was the due to the obstinacy of the enterprising Christophe MARIE, who as early as 1605 proposed its construction and after whom it is named. However it was only in 1614 that the King approved the project. The first stone was laid in the same year in great pomp by king Louis XIII in person.Unfortunately, the canons of Notre Dame opposed the project, to the extent that building work could only begin many years later.

It was opened to traffic in 1635, more than twenty years after the first stone was laid, but its history does not stop there. Further dissent sprang up between Christophe Marie, the canons and the owners of the island regarding the construction of houses on the bridge. These fifty odd houses were finally built by the carpenter Claude Dublet.

As of this date, the structure underwent no particular changes. Like most of the old stone bridges, its "hump" was gradually reduced, in particular during the restoration of 1850 to 1851, but this did not significantly change its appearance. Since then, the Pont Marie has retained the appearance we know today. It is curious to note that the eight niches which have decorated the structure since the 17th century have never been filled with statues.

Christophe MARIE

Construction date
completed in 1635

Two arches on Ile Saint Louis side collapsed in March 1658 - Repaired in 1670

Total length
about 92 m between abutments

Usable width
22.60 m: roadway 14.60 m; two pavements of 4 m

Construction principles
Stone bridge with five semicircular arches, with spans of between 14 and 18 m.

Stone piers and abutments, built on wooden piles, front and back dihedral cutwaters.

The cutwaters are topped with niches, never filled with statues.


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