This footbridge across the Seine in Paris connects the Garden of the Tuileries on the Right Bank (1st arrondissement) with the Faubourg Saint-Germain on the Left Bank (7th arrondissement), near the Orsay Museum.
When I was in Paris in the 1960s there was a nondescript temporary steel footbridge at this location, replacing the old Solférino Bridge which had been demolished for safety reasons in 1961. That temporary footbridge, the Passerelle Solférino, remained in use for over thirty years.
A design competition for a new footbridge to replace it was won by the French architect and engineer Marc Mimram in 1992. His idea was to make a single-span bridge on two levels, with both meeting in the middle so people could change from one to the other. The upper level is wheelchair accessible but the lower level is not, because it is too steep.
The opening of the new footbridge was delayed by the political constellation of the 1990s because it was commissioned by the French national government under the Socialist president François Mitterrand but was opposed by the right-wing mayor of Paris, who probably would have preferred a new motorway bridge instead. (Paris didn’t elect its first Socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, until 2001.)
After various controversies the new footbridge was finally opened in 1999 and Marc Mimram was awarded the Equerre d’Argent for its innovative architecture.
Initially the new footbridge was called the Passerelle Solférino, like its predecessor, after the Battle of Solférino which was won by the French army in 1859. But in 2006 the bridge was renamed to honor the first president of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001).
At the south end of the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor footbridge there is a statue of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. Jefferson lived in Paris as the American Minister to France from 1785 to 1789, succeeding Benjamin Franklin.
The statue was made by the French sculptor Jean Cardot and was unveiled on July 4, 2006.
Jefferson in this statue is holding the plans for Monticello, his home near Charlottesville, Virginia. The statue is located just across the street from the Palais de Salm, now the Palace of the Legion of Honor, which served as Jefferson’s model for his future home.
My photos in this post are from 2013. I revised the text in 2018.
See more posts on bridges across the Seine in Paris.