Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007
According to the www.Paris.fr site, the inauguration of the Passerelle de Simone de Beauvoir brings Paris’s number of bridges crossing the Seine River up to 37. Another site Paris-tourist-information.co lists Paris’s bridges at 36. I’ve only counted 35 on the Paris.fr site. So, here’s an opportunity for any of you astute Paris bridge counters out there to set the record straight.
Meanwhile, although I know, it’s the kind of statistic to have handy and at your fingertips, I must confess to you that I am bridge ignorant. For four years I lived in the shadow of the Queensboro bridge in Manhattan. Friends coming to visit used to ask me, “What’s the name of the bridge?” Taking the Circle Line cruise was even worse. There were far too many bridges in the course of that trip and after a while, I was too embarrassed to say how many times I mistook the Brooklyn bridge for some other bridge.
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If you stay in Paris long enough, you will find your favorite bridge. Finding your favorite bridge is important. It will become your talisman, your magical place. Visit your bridge at all times of day and watch how the changing light brings out all different shades in the sky and water. Bring friends – if you bring a friend – you will remember that friend for ever – because you have crossed a bridge in Paris together. Go there alone – when you are happy or when you’re miserable. Stand on the bridge for a moment, or an hour or longer and you will capture the essence of Paris – without going on a walking tour, without visiting half a dozen museums, without going to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
(Please forgive me tour operators and tourism office for this simplistic advice), but I truly believe that when all is said and done, you will remember Paris best at a particular point in time when you happen to be crossing one of those 35, 36, or 37 bridges that span the Seine. It may be twilight and the lights are just beginning to illuminate the banks. The sky has a pinkish glow and the Seine is a blue metallic swirl of thick brush strokes. You don’t even have to take a photograph. The image in your memory is better, richer, ever expanding like an unfolding silk scroll.
Stand on your favorite bridge – and it doesn’t matter if you remember its name. Just call it ‘Paris’.