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Distinguished by four pillars topped with glittering nymphs, the striking Pont Alexandre III cuts imperiously across the Seine. Built for the 1900 Universal Exposition, it is a glorious sight that has back dropped numerous movies and TV shows.
Linking the Grand and Petit Palais built for the 1900 world fair and historic Les Invalides, it is a focal point for dreamy strolls around leading attractions on the Seine. Art nouveau streetlamps twinkle above the elegant bridge, making it an essential stop for romantics and photo souvenir collectors.
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What is the Pont Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III was one of several ambitious projects commissioned for the 1900 world fair, Exposition Universelle. The previous Parisian world fair in 1889 saw the Eiffel Tower built, so targets were high. Two new museums were built in the Champs-Élysées quartier for the exposition, the Grand, and Petit Palais. Completing the revamped area would be the Pont Alexandre III.
The new bridge would cross directly to Les Invalides, the former veteran’s hospital turned army museum and tomb for Napoleon Bonaparte. It would symbolize French ambitions at the world fair. Named in honor of Tsar Alexander III after he signed the Franco-Russian alliance of 1892, the bridge was designed in the Beaux Art style prevalent in the day. Finished with soaring columns topped with gilt-bronze nymphs, the arch bridge was an architectural triumph. Not everyone agreed at the time, with critics sniffy about the extravagance of what immediately became Paris’s most ornate bridge.
Tickets and tours to Pont Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III is a public bridge and is free to visit any time of the day.
Seine River Tour with gourmet Lunch
City Highlights Segway Tour
Biketour with a local guide
Impossibly romantic gourmet dinner cruise along the Seine.
Cross Pont Alexandre III in style with Segways disguised as scooters.
Pedal your way around Paris's landmarks with a fantastic half-day biketour.
Tours around the Pont Alexandre III: The details
Bateaux Seine River Sightseeing CruiseBoat tour in Eiffel Tower & Saint GermainAdd to myTravel added
There is no better way to see Pont Alexandre III than from the Seine. The boat tours offered by Bateaux Parisiens are probably the best known, and not without reason: the service on board leaves nothing to be desired, and you will be spoiled with a delicious à la carte dinner.
What I particularly like about these boats is that all the windows are glazed, giving you a breathtaking panoramic view of the banks of the Seine, which, by the way, has been designated a UNESCO cultural heritage site.
City Highlights Segway TourMotorized tour in 8. ArrondissementAdd to myTravel added
Cross Pont Alexandre III in something approaching style with Segways disguised as scooters.
See a host of sights on a — hopefully — well-balanced tour past famous landmarks. French and English speakers only.
Bike tour with a local guideBike Tour in 8. ArrondissementAdd to myTravel added
Two wheels take you down paths less trodden before stopping to admire world-famous landmarks like the Pont Alexandre III. This tour comes with an informed local speaking English or French and is fantastic value for a half-day tour.
Skimming across the Seine under the gaze of glittering nymphs, Pont Alexandre III is a feast for the eyes.
Highlights of Pont Alexandre III
You can appreciate the full majesty of Pont Alexandre III from the Seine banks or on a river cruise. But the best view is from the neighboring Pont des Invalides. It is the place to get the photos you’ll want to keep. Head back to the bridge to take in the details. The brightest feature is the gilt-bronze nymphs, the Fames. Each represents a different route to fame. Fames of the arts and sciences stand watch over the Right Bank. At the opposing end is the Fames of commerce and industry.
Adorning the base of the four pillars are statues representing Charlemagne, Louis XIV, Renaissance France, and Contemporary France. At night, art nouveau lamps light the way to the golden dome of Les Invalides. The road across the bridge is often busy, so there’s little cause to linger. Pont Alexandre III is best viewed from a distance. Although, when it’s quiet, you can picture yourself in one of the many movies filmed there. Arrestingly beautiful and instantly recognizable, it’s to understand why the bridge enamors movie producers.
Tips for visiting Pont Alexandre III
A busy road bridge, there are a couple of ways to approach seeing Pont Alexandre III at its best:
- Pont Alexandre III sparkles as dusk settles. The traffic slows too. It’s a great time to visit.
- A floating restaurant Rosa Bonheur and a riverside summer bar Flow are perfectly positioned to savor the views.
The best view on the bridge!
Head to Pont des Invalides for panoramic views. You still have traffic, but you get the clearest panorama of the bridge. To see the other side, head along the riverbanks.
Is Pont Alexandre III worth visiting?
Pont Alexandre III is a sublime sight on strolls between the Champs-Élysées Les Invalides or along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. The majestic bridge merits a visit, even if you don’t linger on the busy bridge. Of all the landmarks nearby, the bridge might just be the prettiest.
Historic facts about Pont Alexandre III
Conceived as a glorious symbol for the 1900 Universal Exposition. The bridge would mark the Franco-Russian alliance agreed with Tsar Alexander III. His son, the ill-fated Nicholas II, laid the first stone in 1896. In return, the Trinity Bridge was built in St Petersburg. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the first stone was laid by French President Félix Faure. In a fate unconsidered at the time, the alliance between the two countries would contribute to the many causes of the First World War.
Although finished on time and to specification, perhaps even on budget, Pont Alexandre III did not receive universal acclaim. Reports suggested some Parisians found it too indulgent and out of character for the area.
We can assume the mesmerizing landmark pleased locals by the time the bridge was listed as a monument historique in 1975. Although golden in appearance, the nymphs are actually made from gilt-bronze. They’re no less dazzling. Pont Alexandre III is also a visitor magnet because it has lit up numerous French and international movies, music videos, and TV shows.
The Moody Blues, James Bond, Marion Cotillard, Mariah Carey, and, of course, Emily in Paris shared screen time with the bridge. And that’s just a selection of big names, with several Hollywood movies and smash TV shows also filmed there. The enduring media interest is understandable. Pont Alexandre III has gone from an exhibition showpiece to a Parisian icon in little over a century.
What to do after visiting Pont Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III was built to connect several popular landmarks.
- At one end is Les Invalides, the sprawling national army museum and Home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb.
- The Right Bank end leads to Petit Palais and Grand Palais. The elegant Petit Palais is a city art museum and is free to visit. While the Grand Palais hosts a rolling program of cultural events. Both were built alongside Pont Alexandre III for the 1900 world fair.
- A 25-minute walk along the Left Bank from Pont Alexandre III will get you to the base of the Eiffel Tower. A similar distance along the Right Bank takes you to the Louvre.
- Other leading destinations like the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, and the Jardin des Tuileries are within walking distance
What areas does Pont Alexandre III connect?
Pont Alexandre III crosses from the 8th arrondissement in the Champs-Élysées quartier to Invalides in the 7th arrondissement. At one end stands Les Invalides museum, at the other are the Grand Palais and Petit Palais.
Why is it named Pont Alexandre III?
The Alexandre III Bridge was named in honor of the Russian Tsar, signing alliance terms with France in 1894. Alexander’s son, Tsar Nicholas II, laid the first stone for a structure completed in time for the 1900 Universal Exposition. The Trinity Bridge in St Petersburg was built in appreciation.
Where is the best view of Pont Alexandre III?
Pont Les Invalides looks over the west side of the bridge and enjoys the best views. A river cruise is another fantastic way to see the bridge. You can also walk along the riverbanks or stop in a riverboat restaurant parked near the bridge to linger and savor the views.