Bridges such as the Pont des Arts, the famous Love Lock Bridge in Paris, complement the views of the river and the city at night. No visit to Paris is complete without taking a stroll along with one of its many bridges. Here is a list of some of our favorite bridges in Paris including the stories behind them!
Pro Tip: Planning what to do on your trip to Paris? Bookmark this post in your browser so you can easily find it when you’re in the city. Check out our guide to Paris for more planning resources, our top Paris tours for a memorable trip, and how to see Paris in a day.
Visiting Paris’ Love Lock Bridge and Other Famous Bridges
You likely already know Paris’ Pont des Arts by a different name—the love lock bridge, which is famous for the tradition of lovers writing their names on a lock, attaching it to the bridge, and throwing the key in the Seine River.
While Pont des Arts is definitely the most famous love-lock bridge, did you know it’s not the original love-lock bridge? The tradition didn’t start in Paris or even France. So, where did the love lock tradition come from, and can you still put your own love lock on Pont des Arts in Paris?
Quick answer: It’s illegal to add locks to the bridge today. So, we don’t recommend you do this yourself. However, it’s always good to know the story behind local traditions when you visit an iconic place like Pont des Arts.
Read on to find out more about the origins of the love lock bridge tradition and other famous bridges to visit in Paris. If you’d like to visit Paris’ top sites with a passionate guide who knows all the local history and stories, check out our Paris in a day tour.
Already in Paris? Purchase tickets and tours for the hottest destinations and avoid the long lines!
Not ready to book a tour? See if Paris tours are worth it.
Where did the love lock bridge tradition come from?
In 2006, a film named “Ho Voglio di Te” (I want you) hit the theatres in Italy. I first watched it in 2015 and remember being particularly struck by a scene where two lovers write their name on a lock and attach it to Ponte Milvo, a bridge in Rome, before throwing the key in the river.
I remember thinking, “this is corny…they copied this from Pont des Arts in Paris!” However, it turns out the love lock bridge tradition came from this very movie. It even inspired the love-lock tradition on Ponte Milvo in Rome—it just didn’t become as popular there.
This may be due to the location of Ponte Milvio, which isn’t exactly in the center of the city. So, I’m guessing it didn’t catch on mostly because it wasn’t particularly convenient for visitors.
The tradition likely caught on in Paris because of Pont des Arts’ central location. It’s right near the Louvre, which makes it a very convenient destination for lovers of all ages to visit on their trip to Paris.
Can you still put love locks on Paris’ Pont des Arts?
Although the Pont des Arts is famous for the locks lovers have attached to it, it’s illegal to do so today. Collectively, the locks compromise the bridge’s structural integrity, which is a risk for the bridge and anyone who walks across it.
It’s worth noting that not only is it illegal but Parisian locals frown upon the practice as they are passionate about their city’s art and architecture. So, while you can admire the Pont des Arts, it’s best not to add your own love lock.
Heading to Paris and want to see the love lock bridge through the eyes of a local? See our Paris in a Day tour, which includes a walk over this famous landmark.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our best Paris tours to take and why.
Five Famous Bridges To Visit in Paris
The city of Paris didn’t always have bridges crossing the Seine River. It wasn’t until A.D. 864 when the Edict of Pistres mandated the building of bridges across the Seine in response to the sack of Paris by Vikings in A.D. 845.
It proved an effective strategy during the Siege of Paris in A.D. 885 as Viking ships were unable to pass beyond the bridges spanning the Seine. From that point, many bridges were built, some even by “private investors” with the goal of charging a toll to cross the bridge and make a profit.
There are now 37 bridges on the Seine River within the city limits of Paris. Of these, only five are pedestrian bridges. Here are some of the most iconic bridges to visit in Paris.
5. Pont de Bir-Hakeim
Formerly the Pont de Passy, the Pont de Bir-Hakeim is named in honor of the World War II Battle of Bir-Hakeim, which involved French and German forces in Africa in 1942. This dual-level bridge hosts one level for pedestrians and motor vehicles and another level with a railway viaduct.
This steel bridge passes through the artificial island of Île aux Cygnes, where visitors will see a replica of the Statue of Liberty. The Pont de Bir-Hakeim makes cameo appearances in blockbuster movies such as “Inception” and “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”.
It’s also a great place to look out over Paris’ most famous attraction: the Eiffel Tower.
Location: Pont de Bir-Hakeim
4. Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir
The Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir is named for French philosopher and activist Simone de Beauvoir and is the most recently-built bridge in Paris. Completed in 2006, it’s used solely by cyclists and pedestrians and leads to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the French national library.
The modern design of this footbridge boasts a lens-shaped structure that doesn’t touch the water at any section of the bridge. Its supports rest on the banks of the Seine River on either side.
Location: Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir
3. Pont Alexandre III
The Pont Alexandre III is Paris’ famous Beaux-Arts style bridge. Named after Tsar Alexander III and built in 1900, the bridge boasts iconic sculptures depicting nymphs from Greek and Roman mythology. The bridge debuted at the Exposition Universelle (World Fair) in 1900 along with the Grand Palais and Petit Palais.
The Pont Alexandre III is built in alignment with Les Invalides. It connects the Eiffel Tower with the Champs-Élysées. The bridge’s exuberant design is featured in cameo appearances in movies such as “Ronin,” “Midnight in Paris,” and “Anastasia”.
Location: Pont Alexandre III
Our Best Paris and Louvre Tours
Not ready to book a tour? Find out if Paris tours are worth it.
2. Pont Neuf
The Pont Neuf is Paris’ oldest existing bridge across the Seine River. It’s located on the westernmost point of the Île de la Cité, one of Paris’ two natural islands in the Seine River.
Henry IV completed the construction of this “new bridge” and inaugurated the structure in 1607. Visitors to Pont Neuf will enjoy its many sculptures including the macarons, stone masks that line the side of the bridge, and the bronze statue of Henry IV on horseback located at the crossing of the Île de la Cité.
The bridge should be the number one most famous bridge for a few reasons. First, the statue of Henry IV on horseback, referred to as an equestrian statue, was a very big deal. It may sound silly today, but getting an equestrian statue in your city sort of put you on the map, so to speak.
Also, the raised sidewalk on this bridge was a completely new feature in Western civilization. Prior to this, roads were flat from side to side, often dirty, and muddy in rainy Paris. This bridge offered elevated paved sidewalks, which got people outside strutting their stuff.
Paris’ fashionable nobles began to abandon their horses and carriages so they could be “seen” walking across Pont Neuf. It’s part of the reason why fashion became part of the fabric of Paris—pun intended! So why isn’t Ponte Neuf Paris’ most famous bridge? In the end, love prevails and Pont des Arts has had a stronger impression on pop culture.
Location: Pont Neuf
1. Pont des Arts (The Famous Love Lock Bridge in Paris)
The Pont des Arts connects the Institut de France with the Louvre. The bridge was originally constructed in 1804 during the reign of Napoleon. However, it suffered two aerial bombardments during World War I and II. It has also been abused by passing boats. There had been numerous collisions with boats before it collapsed in 1979 after a ship rammed into it.
The present-day bridge was built in 1984 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the rest of the Seine Riverfront in Paris. The Pont des Arts is a popular spot for picnics and open-air art studios. The bridge’s position along the Seine River and close to the Louvre makes it a popular spot for photographers as well.
Pont des Arts is most famous for being the love lock bridge in Paris, where visitors attach personalized padlocks to its railing and throw the keys away in the Seine River. Despite the government of Paris removing many of the locks in 2015, over a million more (approximately 45 tons) have been placed on the bridge since then.
Heading to Paris and want to see the love lock bridge through the eyes of a local? See our Paris in a Day tour which includes a walk over this famous landmark.
Location: Pont des Arts
Not ready to book a tour? See our best Paris tours to take and why.