You’ve got to feel sorry for Pont Saint-Jean. In the unwritten hierarchy of Bordeaux’s road bridges, it comes very much at the bottom of the table, far behind the elegant Pont de Pierre, the slick Chaban-Delmas lift bridge, the wondrous Pont d’Aquitaine suspension bridge and the minimalist Pont Mitterrand. In the otherwise flawless “Dictionnaire de Bordeaux” it doesn’t even get an entry. Let’s face it, if Pont Saint-Jean were one of the Beatles, it would be Pete Best.
The unloved edifice was the result of a relatively short process which began in 1962 with an initial call for tenders to deliver a bridge to connect Quai de Paludate (near Saint-Jean railway station on the left bank) with Quai Deshcamps in the right-bank Bastide quarter. Campenon Bernard, a company which is now part of the Vinci group, were selected and they teamed up with the architect Jean-Louis Fayeton (1908-1968). Construction work began in April 1963.
The whole endeavour was subsequently executed so swiftly that it went almost unnoticed in Bordeaux while most attentions were focused on the more complex and ambitious Pont d’Aquitaine project further downstream, which had been in the pipeline far longer and yet would only be delivered in 1967. So, upon completion, Pont Saint-Jean was just the second road bridge to span the Garonne in Bordeaux.
|The collectable coin, souce: Wikipedia.|
|The visual delight that is Pont Saint-Jean.|
Meanwhile, over on the northern flank, there is an almost village-like feel about the city when viewed from the bridge.
All-in-all, Pont Saint-Jean feels like nothing more than a functional means of getting from A to B with few taking the time out to enjoy the view, although perhaps the bridge is more meaningful for one person: I spotted a colourful bike lock hooked up to the railings half-way across the bridge.
Is this a prestigious bicycle parking spot? Or does the person leave it there to pick it up on their way into or out of Bordeaux? Or is the lock a romantic symbol which could be replicated by other people, and if so could Pont Saint-Jean be set to become the Bordeaux equivalent of Pont des Arts and its love-locks in Paris?
I’m tempted to leave a bike lock there myself to find out whether the idea develops.
- Find it on the Invisible Bordeaux map:
- Pont Saint-Jean, Bordeaux.