Iconic bridges in Paris: Invalides

Sladjana Perkovic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

It can be a bit confusing, but the Pont des Invalides is a bridge that is actually not situated in the axis of the Hotel des Invalides, a famous Parisian monument. The reason for this lies in the fact that the history of this bridge is full of the most incredibly unfortunate moments. Not only that this bridge was demolished several times, but it was even moved from its original site and in 1900, the Pont Alexandre III was built in its old place. Located between the two famous neighbors, the Pont d'Alexandre III, and the Pont d’Alma, the Pont des Invalides is one of the iconic bridges in Paris that is definitely worth visiting.

History of the Invalides

The history of the Pont des Invalides bridge is more than complicated. In 1821, Claude-Louis Navier, a French engineer and physicist, designed a technologically revolutionary bridge. The construction of this suspension bridge started in 1824, on the site of the current Pont Alexandre III. Unfortunately, the project had so many failures that it was finally abandoned and the bridge was demolished even before it was inaugurated.  After the complaints of some Parisians, considering that this new bridge would ruin the perspective of the Hotel des Invalides, one of the most famous Parisian monuments, the construction site of the Pont des Invalides was moved downstream. Two French engineers, Marie Fortuné de Vergès and Bayard de Vingtrie, constructed the new bridge in 1829. But, even this project was a pure failure, and again, in 1854, the bridge was demolished. The Pont des Invalides was finally rebuilt for the Universal Exhibition in 1855, by French engineers Paul-Martin Gallocher de Lagalisserie, Paul Vaudrey, and Jules Savarin. Unfortunately, even though this new project was more than perfect, two arches of this bridge collapsed in 1880. Today, despite all the past misfortunes, the Pont des Invalides is a great and stable bridge. 

Bridge decoration

The Pont des Invalides is decorated with two statues. The French sculptor Victor Vilain created the "La Victoire Terrestre" (the Land Victory), on the upstream side, and Georges Diebolt sculpted "La Victoire Maritime" (the Maritime Victory), which can be seen on the downstream side of the bridge. Georges Diebolt is a French sculptor that also created the Zouave, a sculpture which is decorating the Pont de l’Alma, since 1856. The Zouave, representing a French soldier wearing the traditional uniform worn in North Africa in the early 1800s, is also an unofficial measuring instrument for water levels of the River Seine.

Photo Credit © iStockphoto/AlexKozlov

Hôtel des Invalides

The Pont des Invalides, one of the iconic bridges in Paris, is surrounded by many impressive buildings and monuments. On the left bank of the Seine, you can find the Hôtel des Invalides. Built in 1670, to shelter the army veterans, this famous French monument is today a place that houses a hospital for soldiers, the French Army Military Museum, the Museum of Contemporary History, the Saint-Louis des Invalides Cathedral, a military necropolis, and the Napoleon's I grave. On the other side of the river, there is the Grand Palais, another exhibition hall and a museum complex.

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