The Ponte Alexandre III is considered by many to be one of the prettiest bridges in Paris. The bridge is located south of the Champs Elysees at the southern end of Avenue Winston Churchill in the 7th and 8th arrondissements. It crosses the Seine river and leads to Les Invalides, the final resting place of Napoleon. The bridge has four granite columns, two on each side of the river, which help it anchor the piers that support its single span. The columns are topped by gilded statues of the Fames. On the Right Bank are the Fame of the Science and the Fame of the Arts. Statues of Contemporary France and France of Charlemagne are at their bases. On the columns of the Left Bank, there are the Fames of Commerce and Industry. Beneath them there are sculptures of the Renaissance and Louis XIV. Groups of lions also adorn the ends of the bridge. The lions on the Right Bank were designed by George Gardet and the lions on the Left Bank are by Jules Dalou.
When one walks over the Pont Alexandre III they will see Art Nouveau nymphs, winged horses and cherubs which are also found at both ends of the bridge. The bridge was begun when Czar Nicholas II, in a gesture of friendship between the people of France and the people of Russia. He laid the foundation stone in October, 1896. The bridge was finally completed in 1900, in time for the Universal Exhibition, or World’s Fair. Since the fair was happening on both sides of the Seine, the bridge allowed visitors to stroll back and forth across the river to see all of the exhibits.
The lavish style of the bridge echoes the Grand Palais, which is found on the Right Bank of the Seine and was also created for the Exhibition. The bridge was built under rather strict guidelines to make sure that it did not compete with the views down of Champs Elysees or Les Invalides. The bridge consists of a single 18 foot high span that arches gently across the river. The bridge is about 132 feet wide and 353 feet long.
The bridge’s designers were Gaston Cousin and Joseph Cassien-Bernard. It was engineered by Amédée d’Alby and Jean Résal. Besides these men, the bridge’s sculptures were created by several artists, including Emmanuel Frémiet, Gustave Michel, Alfred Lenoir, Gardet, Pierre Granet, Clément Steiner, Jules Coutan, Laurent Marqueste, Dalou and Georges Récipon.