Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oct 16, Part 5 - Place du Pont Neuf, Paris

We've just come from the narrow opening between the buildings and we're looking back into Place Dauphine from Place du Pont Neuf. That's the spire of the amazing Ste. Chapelle, which we didn't visit on this trip. The small square is raised above the level of the street. Despite it's name (new), Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris crossing the Seine, built between 1578 and 1604. It was the first of the bridges that had much of a view for those crossing it, because bridges until this time were lined with shops. The bridge was also paved very early, before the streets of Paris were paved.

Here's another picture of the buildings at the narrow end of Place Dauphine, and interesting and unusually-shaped square.

In the Place du Pont Neuf stands this statue of Henri IV. He's called the "Vert Galant," owing to his reputation with the ladies into advanced years. "Vert," green, indicates that he was young for his years. The square beyond the statue is named for him, and that will be in the next post. This statue is an 1818 replacement for one by the famous monument sculptors Giambologna and Tacca. Their statue of Henri stood here from 1635 to 1972. Apparently it was toppled during the Revolution. It's said that when the statue was replaced, the foundryman put a small statue of Napoleon in the right arm of Henri IV, because he didn't like melting down a sculpture of his hero, Napoleon, from the Vendome column to create another sculpture of a monarch. I don't know if that's true. The pigeons seem to like it, one way or another.

This photo is also taken from Place du Pont Neuf. You can see the gilded dome of the Institut de France on the left and the spire of the Eiffel tower in the center.

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