Pont Alexandre III Links the Invalides to the Grand and Petit Palais. Built in 1900 for the World Expo, it is certainly the most lavish bridge in town, with cherubs and lions installed to celebrate the relationship between France and Russia. It is an over-the-top Art Nouveau–style masterpiece. Read more here.
Pont des Arts Links the left bank, in front of the fabulous gold-domed Institut de France, to the Louvre. This is our favorite pedestrian bridge—it sees a lot of activity in the summer, when people set up picnics with candelabras, couscous and wine. Also, it’s a popular bridge on New Year’s Eve, when many Parisians congregate with their bottles of champagne to see the sparkling Eiffel Tower. Strangers kiss and exclaim, “Bonne Année!”
Pont Marie Links the Ile-St.-Louis with the right bank of the Seine and is the second-oldest bridge in Paris, dating from 1614. Legend has it that if you make a wish underneath, it will be granted—hence the nickname Lovers’ Bridge. So if you are back in Paris with your lover (or your hubby), give him a kiss here for good luck!
Pont Neuf Connects the left and right banks through the tip of Ile de la Cité and deposits you at a lovely park, the place Dauphine. Dating from 1607, it is the oldest and, we think, most beautiful bridge in Paris.
Pont St. Louis This bridge isn’t spectacular or exceptional in its design, but it connects the two islands and is often a nice place for a stroll, from behind Notre Dame toward Ile-St.-Louis. In summer you’ll find street performers here.
For more, check out this list.
Girls’ Guide Bridge Walking Tour
You can take your own bridge-oriented day tour by clicking on this map and printing it out before you go. Wear your sneakers or very comfy shoes, as this is a long jaunt. This walk is over three kilometers and will take you over an hour if you do not stop—but the fun is in stopping. Taking a leisurely pace with a break for lunch, you’ll spend at least three hours; if you stop at museums or Notre Dame, this is an all-day affair.
Begin at the pont Alexandre III, crossing from the left bank to the right, pausing to admire the bridge as well as the spectacular view. Stop in at the Grand Palais or the Petit Palais if you are interested in any of the current exhibitions. Walk down the Champs Élysées toward the Louvre and stop to admire the place de la Concorde, where Marie Antoinette had her head chopped off. End there if you are already tired, and have tea at the Hôtel de Crillon (10, place de la Concorde; 01 44 71 15 00). The hotel’s gift shop is great for souvenirs to take home to friends and family.
If you continue on, head through the Tuileries Gardens toward the Louvre, admiring the sculptures along the way. Stop if you get hungry for a crêpe. About halfway through the Tuileries, turn and take a walk on the pedestrian bridge Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor (on old maps it’s called the pont Solferino). This has a particularly lovely view of the Musée d’Orsay and all of central Paris. If you are really feeling vigorous, take a walk through the museum (62, rue de Lille; 01 40 49 48 14), or return another day. Go back into the Tuileries Gardens and walk straight toward the Pyramid, designed by I. M. Pei, and past it toward the back part of the palace (the Louvre). Then take a right to cross the pont des Arts. This is another beautiful pedestrian bridge that is often crowded with picnickers on summer weekends. Stay for a while on the left bank, browsing through the booksellers (les bouquinistes), who have been selling their antique books here by the Seine for hundreds of years.
Stroll back over toward the right bank via the pont Neuf (the oldest bridge in Paris, though it is named the “new bridge”), cross only halfway and you’ll find you are on the Ile de la Cité. Stop for a much-needed rest for lunch at any of the darling cafés at the place Dauphine—one of our favorites is Taverne Henri IV, which is a wine bar serving affordable wines and charcuterie (13, place du pont Neuf, in the 1st; 01 43 54 27 90. Noon–10; closed Sat evenings and Sun).
Walk through the Ile de la Cité—stop at the Conciergerie, Sainte-Chapelle or Notre Dame and then continue, finally, on to Ile-St.-Louis via the pont St.-Louis. Some good window (and real) shopping can be had on rue St.-Louis-en-l’Ile, which travels squarely down the middle of the small island. Berthillon (31, rue St.-Louis-en-l’Ile; 01 43 54 31 61), Paris’s most famous ice cream store, can be found here—look for the long lines. Make reservations for dinner on the island, if you like, at l’Orangerie (28, rue St.-Louis-en-I’Ile; 01 46 33 93 98) or Mon Vieil Ami (69, rue St.-Louis-en-l’Ile; 01 40 46 01 35). Cross to the right bank to end your tour by exiting on the pont Marie—also from the 1600s—and make your wish! You are right near the Hôtel de Ville (city hall), where there is a taxi stand and a metro station. If you still have energy, stop in at the Hôtel de Ville, on the rue de Rivoli. They usually have an interesting free exhibit going on.
Mappy is a great service that will map your strolling routes for you.