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Pont du Carrousel

Pont du Carrousel

The name "Pont du Carrousel" in fact covers two separate structures which came one after other and which were called different things at different times. The construction of the first bridge began in 1831 and it was first of all called the Pont des Saint-Pres, after the street of the same name which gave onto the Seine at this point. However, when it was opened by King Louis-Philippe in 1834, it was given its present name of "Pont du Carrousel". It is also sometimes called the "Pont du Louvre" because it reaches the right bank in front of the Louvre Palace.
This first structure comprised a major technical innovation. It was designed by the engineer POLONCEAU, who fought tooth and nail to have his project accepted in the face of opposition from the partisans of a suspension bridge. He even went as far as to finance the initial foundation work from his own pocket. The very lightweight structure consisted of three equal main arches, each of which itself comprised five composite wood and cast iron arches supporting a wooden deck.
Although daring, this structure was nonetheless fragile, and in 1883, the bridge was closed for six months for replacement of some of the beams and cross-members. The technicians took this opportunity to suggest replacing the wooden deck with beaten iron, which was in fact done, but not before 1906.However, the structure was still extremely flexible and with the growth in the volume and weight of traffic, it shook and bounced disconcertingly.
Having finally become too narrow to handle the growth in traffic, the decision was finally taken to rebuild it completely in 1930, when it was at the same time relocated a few dozen metres further downstream, aligned
with the entrance to the Louvre.
Construction of the new bridge, designed by the engineers MALET and LANG, began in July 1935 and was completed in July 1939.
Like its predecessor, it consisted of three arches, although this time of unequal span. Its length was increased to 33 m.
At least three episodes are worth relating from the historical viewpoint. Firstly, the name of the bridge. As we saw earlier, this was called the Pont des Saints-Pres and then Pont du Carrousel. In 1906, however, the town council gave it back its first name.
Another mishap: a few years after its construction in 1847, the first bridge was decorated by groups of statues from the sculptor PETITOT at its four corners. When renovation work was carried out in 1906, modification of the entrances to the bridge meant that they had to be moved. The statues were only re-installed on new pedestals in 1908.
The third anecdote concerns the new bridge. When completed in 1939, the question of lighting arose. After a number of debatable projects, the ironworker Raymond Subes designed a system of telescopic obelisks which would raise up the lights at nightfall. Although chiefly made of strategic materials such as bronze, the systems were built under the occupation, but the decision was taken to wait for better days before installing them. There were hidden in 1941 in a space in the abutments and were only brought out in 1946. Unfortunately, the fragility of the mechanisms made them unsuitable for intensive use and they are, at least for the time being, unserviceable.


MALET & LANG, engineers



Construction date

July 1935 to July 1939

Total length
168 m

Usable width
33m: 21 m roadway; two pavements of 6 m.

Construction principles

Three arches comprising reinforced concrete vaults, of 36 m, 42 m and 36 m span.

Piers and arcs are covered with a quarried stone facing in order to blend in with the Louvre.
On the bank on either side of the bridge, four decorated pylons support telescopic lighting systems able to raise the lamps from a height of 13 m (day) to 20 m (night) - mechanism currently unserviceable. Designed by Subes and installed in 1946.


Quai des Tuileries
Quai Voltaire
75007 Paris

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mise à jour le : 18 décembre 2013
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