Pont Alexandre III: The Great Leap
By Theadora Brack
During these surreal and difficult days, I send encouragement and positive thoughts to all of you.
We will travel again, I’m certain. In the meantime, though, here’s a temporary break from our current unfamiliar reality and unrelenting news cycle. Celebrating little joys, let’s take a visual stroll across the Pont Alexandre III. Designed by architects Joseph Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin, this most-ornate-of-all-Paris-bridges was one of the showstoppers at the 1900 Exposition Universelle—along with at the time new-fangled marvels like talkie movies, escalators, and mechanical sidewalks.
A perfect photo-op still, rain or shine—the arches of the bridge look every bit as radiant and pearly as the architects and the seventeen sculptors who adorned it surely intended.
Haters are gonna hate
Back at the time of its launch there were a few critics, because haters are always gonna hate. In fact, one grumpy reporter wrote in 1900:
“I am unable to participate in the general admiration for the new bridge, the Alexandre III. It is aggressively modern . . . while the bloated festoons of flowers in cast metal that descend between the ports of the spandrels are positively vulgar in effect.”
Ouch. Is it really possible to have too many festoons of flowers? Not in my closet. And “aggressively modern”? Well, you be the judge. Tastes have changed.
Looking for vintage Paris-in-motion inspo?
Get thee over to your favorite streaming platform, and watch nglish singer-writer Adele’s 2011 epic weepie “Someone Like You” video. Shot in black and white by director Jake Nava in a Wim Wenders sort of way, you’ll not only see this glorious bridge, but also a spinning Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais, Invalides, and Place de la Concorde. For the love of red velvet pantsuits, frilly sleeves, and canted angle shots, the Moody Blues band’s classic “Nights in White Satin” was also filmed here. You’ll definitely feel a groovitational pull as you watch their 1967 video, featuring wild artsy shots of the Arc de Triomphe and the Jardin des Tuileries.
Honestly, this super fan has not been able to listen to either of those songs of unrequited love without hitting repeat. I’ve also been snacking nonstop on chocolate. #Guilty #Carrotscanwait #Jumpingjackscanwait
Closing with my favorite passage in M.V. Vernier’s pocket-sized 1918 edition of “How to Enjoy Paris” travel guide:
“The spirit of Paris gradually takes possession of you and permeates you never to depart. From now on, wherever you go, it will re-awaken you. You will be drawn back to it with irresistible force, like the moth, at even-time, to the flame. There is no other cure for Paris-itis—save a little three week trip across the ocean and tropics. And at the end of the voyage is found the long-sought-for-oasis, the delicious and magic fountain where lost attractiveness is found again, and the most capricious whim is satisfied.”I couldn’t agree more
But hold that thought. For now, though, its better to stay home, try to stay safe, and wash those hands. Repeat.