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Le Pont of Pierre (Bordeaux, France)

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      06.03.2010 21:28
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      Good, as far as bridges go

      During our recent holiday in Bordeaux we stayed in a hotel in the Bastide area, meaning that whenever we went into town we crossed the fabulous Pont de Pierre, the first bridge built across the River Garonne to link the two sides of Bordeaux. But would I recommend it as a monument to visit in its own right?


      Its history

      Pont de Pierre was opened in 1822 after 3 years of construction. Prior to this, crossing the river required a boat or the desire to swim. At 486 metres it was quite an engineering feat, supported by 17 arches which some state was deliberate to match the number of letters in 'Napoléon Bonaparte', under whose orders the bridge was built. Originally it was a toll bridge. It remained the sole bridge across the Garonne in Bordeaux until 1965.


      Its present

      Pont de Pierre remains an important and imposing bridge. It carries 2 lanes of traffic as well as 2 sets of rails for line A of Bordeaux's excellent tram system and of course 2 pavements. While on it you are impressed by the 'sturdiness' of its walls and the grandeur of its old-fashioned wrought-iron street lamps. Looking from it you can admire several of Bordeaux's other wonders, including Place de la Bourse and in the distance Colonnes des Girondins. As with many places in France, beware of gifts left on the pavement by passing dogs.


      Its future

      So should you visit it? Well, if you're in Bordeaux it would be a shame not to, since its free, central, near to many other attractions and impressive in its own right. Along the banks near it there are also other gems to discover, such as the 'Mirror of water' in the summer or the outdoor activities/sports area. If you're feeling lazy, get a tram ticket and take the tram (line C) from the tourist information office to the start of the bridge. But, if I'm completely honest, if it doesn't fit easily into your itinerary I don't think you would have missed a life-changing experience by not visiting it.

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