This striking new footbridge, Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, was built from 2004-2006 to connect the new National Library François Mitterrand with the new Parc du Bercy.
It is a steel structure with oak planks as a deck, and it crosses the Seine in one leap, with no supports in the middle. The bridge is 304 meters long and 12 meters wide. It consists of two arches suspended in mid-air, and you can walk, cycle or roller-skate on both of them.
The main (central) section of the bridge is 106 meters long and was built at the other end of France, at the Eiffel factory in Lauterbourg, Alsace. It was transported to Paris (with considerable difficulty because of its size) by way of canals, the North Sea, the English Channel and then up the river. On November 30, 2005 it was maneuvered through Paris by barge to its final destination, and on January 29, 2006 it was heaved into place and installed at about three in the morning.
On June 13, 2006 the bridge was inaugurated by the mayor of Paris at the time, Bertrand Delanoë, in the presence of Sylvie Le Bon-de Beauvoir, the adopted daughter of Simone de Beauvoir.
View from the footbridge, looking southwest. The four L-shaped buildings mark the four corners of the National Library François Mitterand.
GPS 48°50’7.51″ North; 2°22’40.15″ East
In 2007 the mayor’s office used a photo looking in the same direction, but with a huge condom added to the evening sky, for one of its posters in the series Paris protège l’amour (Paris protects love), urging people to use condoms to prevent AIDS.
I took this photo in 2013 from the Simone de Beauvoir footbridge looking downstream towards the double-decker Bercy Bridge. (The top deck is for the trains of Métro line # 6.)
Since the completion of the François-Mitterrand Library in 1998, the old Port de la Gare has gradually been transformed into a lively party and nightlife area along the left bank of the Seine. In addition to the pavilions on the shore, there are several party boats moored more or less permanently by the river bank, along with a floating swimming pool named after Joséphine Baker (1906-1975).
I took this photo looking upstream towards Tolbiac Bridge, also from the Simone de Beauvoir footbridge.
The pavilions at Port de la Gare provide deck chairs where people can sit and relax while sipping their drinks.
This tin can sculpture at Port de la Gare is connected to the downspout that brings rain water down from the roof.
The Port de la Gare is for some reason not a part of the city’s official Les Berges project, which is about six kilometers further downstream on the left bank, or four kilometers downstream on the right bank.
My photos in this post are from 2007 and 2013. I revised the text in 2017.
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2 thoughts on “Simone de Beauvoir Footbridge”
I love the design! As a non-cyclist, how would I get there by Metro?
Hi, Sarah. The Métro 14 and RER C lines have a joint station called “Bibliothèque François Mitterrand”. To get to the bridge from there you would have to walk over, around or through the Mitterrand Library — which I imagine would also be of interest to you as a librarian. I was just in that library the other day, as it happens, to see one of their exhibitions, and will do a post on it sometime soon. Bus 89 also goes there (from the Luxembourg Museum or the Pantheon, for example).