The Alexandre III Bridge

This is one of those quintessential Paris photos that everyone wants to take sooner or later: The Eiffel Tower from the Alexandre III Bridge. The sculpture in the foreground was made by Georges Récipon (1860-1920) and is supposed to represent a nymph, though she is rather more muscular than nymphs are usually portrayed.

Since we are looking downstream, I think she must be a Nymph of the Neva (a river in Russia) and not a Nymph of the Seine, since those are on the upstream side.

Cover of the Michelin Guide

My immediate reason for taking this photo was that I liked the one on the cover of my Michelin Guide to Paris, so I wanted to see if I could duplicate it with my little camera. I tried it from various angles, and was not unhappy with the results, though I must admit that their (professional) photo is better.

The guidebook gives the Alexandre III bridge two stars (out of a possible three) and says that it “symbolizes the centuries-old ties that unite France and Russia. Technical requirements (such as the single arch, which facilitates river circulation) did not prevent a rich decoration (candelabras, scrolls).”

This particular edition of the Michelin Guide is from 2007. It’s useful and informative, but I have always regretted giving away my older edition from the 1960s. That one didn’t have any photos but did include numerous obscure and bizarre historical details that have since been edited out.

Somebody else taking a similar photo from the Pont Alexandre III

Although I didn’t exactly have to stand in line to take photos from the bridge, I wasn’t the only one, by any means. We all tried to take turns, and not get in each other’s way very often.

Alexandre III Bridge

This is the Alexandre III Bridge as seen from Les Berges, on the left bank of the Seine. From this angle we can see the single arch and some of the fancy garlands and other decorations.

Along with the nearby Grand Palais and Petit Palais, this bridge was built at the end of the nineteenth century and inaugurated in 1900, just in time for the Universal Exhibition. The bridge was named after an Emperor of Russia, Alexandre III (1845-1894), who spoke fluent French and formed an alliance with France towards the end of his life, even though he was highly suspicious of the French form of government at the time, the Third Republic.

Alexandre III Bridge and the Grand Palais

The Grand Palais, like the Eiffel Tower, was originally intended to be just a temporary structure, to be used for the Universal Exhibition and dismantled afterwards. But somehow both are still standing. After decades of neglect, the Grand Palais has been thoroughly renovated and is now often used for art exhibitions. The west wing of the Grand Palais houses a science museum called the Palace of Discovery.

People on bicycles on Alexandre III Bridge

Like most Paris bridges, the Pont Alexandre III gets lots of bicycle traffic, especially on warm summer days.

My photos in this post are from 2013. I revised the text in 2020.

See more posts on Paris bridges.

11 thoughts on “The Alexandre III Bridge”

  1. You’ve done a great job of replicating that photo – or rather, creating your own version of it 🙂 I love this sort of over-the-top flourishes!

  2. Sehr schön! Nun weiß ich endlich, was ich bei meinem Besuch in Paris gesehen habe! Deine Beschreibungen sind immer wunderbar! Danke!

  3. I liked your picture better than Michelin’s. I’ve taken lots of photos of Pont Alexandre III but never thought to put the Eiffel Tower in one. I always shoot in the other direction for some reason. I’ll have a new photo to take next trip. Fun. All mine have the Grand Palais in them.

    1. Thanks, Sally. Next time I want to see if I can take a decent photo of at least one of the four sculptures at the four corners of the bridge. And maybe one from the right bank looking towards the Invalides.

  4. A very nice blog. And I think your photo was better than the one on the guide. I have a similar photo of the Grand Palace in 1964. But I did not know about the nymphs on the bridge – my photos from last year are mostly of the structures on the ends of the bridge. I had a Green guide but not for Paris – it was for the Riviera. I sent it to my granddaughter – it was all in French. They didn’t publish one in English then.

    1. Thanks, Rosalie. I’m glad you like my photo. I used to have some Michelin guides in German, for various parts of Germany, but they seem to be packed away somewhere and I can’t find them.

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