King Henri III launched the construction of the Bridge of Tears

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Plan for the Pont-Neuf, 1577, Carnavalet museum - ©Mbzt / CC-BY Plan for the Pont-Neuf, 1577, Carnavalet museum - ©Mbzt / CC-BY
Paris Pont neuf Bridge Henri III

The Pont-Neuf is Paris’ oldest bridge! The first stone of the current bridge was laid down with great pomp and ceremony on May 31th 1578, by king Henri III. His better half Louise de Vaudémont, his mum Catherine of Medici and all the upper crust attended the ceremony. It drizzled.

The air was warm. And the king seemed so sad, dressed in black... Hey, did he mourn for somebody? Oh, sure. He was mourning his two favourite minions, Caylus and Maugiron. Killed in a gory duel on the current place des Vosges: he buried them on that very May day in Saint-Louis church in Le Marais district...

Hey, Henri, come on! Pull yourself together! But it was a waste of time: Parisians who happily came for the inauguration saw his dismal face. So they suggested the name of "Bridge of Tears" (Pont des Larmes in French) for the brand new construction...

Hey, for the time being, Henri was laying down the first stone of the bridge. Look: he put silver coins engraved with the king and queen’s portraits below the first stone. "Then, he took a silver trowel, took mortar in a silver dish and threw it below the aforesaid stone."

Yes: but the building work stopped afterwards, because of the religious wars shaking the country. King Henri IV, in 1602, continued the building site... completed 4 years later!


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