Pont Bir-Hakeim, the famous bridge in Paris offers one of the prettiest views of the Eiffel Tower. But what is its story ?

Pont Bir-Hakeim

An historical heritage

During the summer of 2020, the Bir-Hakeim bridge underwent a makeover. New masonry and a beautiful coat of paint have given this mythical bridge the shine it deserved. The opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of this bridge classified as historical heritage.
From its birth in the years 1903-1905 to today, the Bir-Hakeim bridge has been the star of passers-by but also of newlyweds who cannot resist the urge to immortalize their union in front of its famous arcades.

A metal footbridge reserved for pedestrians

The history of the Pont Bir-Hakeim begins in 1878, during the third Universal Exhibition in Paris which is held on the Champ de Mars from May to October. A metal footbridge reserved for pedestrians is built between the 15th and 16th arrondissements, resting on the small island of Swans.
A few years later, a competition came to perpetuate the work: work carried out between 1903 and 1906 gave birth to the bridge as we know it today. With two floors, it then allows the crossing of cars and pedestrians on the first level and the passage of metros on the second floor. This is the end of pedestrian exclusivity ! It was Jean-Camille Formigé (1845-1926), architect for the City of Paris, who a few years after having designed and organized the greenhouses and gardens of Auteuil, directed the construction and decoration of the bridge. Louis Biette, engineer, is also in charge of the project. Sculptures adorn the building, such as Science and Work by the Parisian sculptor Jules Coutan or Electricity and Commerce by the prolific Jean-Antoine Injalbert.

A decisive battle

The beginning of the 20th century coincides with the rapid development of the Paris metro. Technical prowess enabled the metro to be lifted from the ground and cross the Seine at the top of the bridge. Users can then enjoy an incomparable view of the Iron Lady.
The years passed and the Pont de Passy led a quiet life, at least until the Second World War. If he is hardly concerned by the raging battles, the consequences of the war catch up with him a few years later. In the north of the Libyan desert, a decisive battle took place 78 years ago around a water point called Bir Hakeim. On the night of June 10 to 11, 1942, the Free French Forces led by General Koenig managed to break through the ranks of the Afrika Korps, the Italian and German motorized armies led by Erwin Rommel. This victory allows the British to regain the advantage and win the first battle of El Amein a month later.

Pont Bir-Hakeim

From Inception to Janet Jackson

Hailed for their courage, the French soldiers rose in the esteem of the Allies, which contributed to imposing France on the negotiating table at the end of the war. In the aftermath of the Second World War, it is time for commemorations. On June 18, 1949, a ceremony was organized by the Paris City Council, then led by Pierre de Gaulle, to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the June 18 appeal. In the presence of General de Gaulle and General Marie-Pierre Koenig, the Passy viaduct was renamed Pont Bir-Hakeim, in tribute to the first victory of the Free French Forces during the war. It then becomes a place of memory for the free French, those who responded to the call of General de Gaulle on June 18, 1942. With the rise of the 7th art, cameras and tourism, the Pont Bir-Hakeim, due to its location but above all thanks to its architecture, has become the darling of tourists and artists. We no longer count his appearances in films (from the Last tango in Paris in 1972 to the famous Inception in 2010) and in video clips (from the American singer Janet Jackson to the Japanese Ayumi Hamasaki).

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