What is perhaps one of the most iconic bridges in all of France is definitely a must-see for visitors to Bordeaux. Connecting the left and right bank of the city since 1819 but ordered by Napoleon I during the First French Empire, Pont de Pierre–the stone bridge– was the first bridge to cross the mighty Garonne River. Indeed, its construction was a challenging one, as the current is extremely strong at this point in the river; more than 4,000 workers were needed to build it, using an English diving bell to stabilize the pillars. Consequently, Pont de Pierre was actually the only bridge to connect the two banks for nearly 150 years!
The red-stone bridge consists of seventeen spans–the exact number of letters in the name Napoléon Bonaparte–lined with elegant iron light posts; each of the bridge’s pillars is capped by a medallion to honor both the emperor and Bordeaux’s coat of arms. A transport route was created in 2004 to convey the over-sized structural sections of the Airbus A380 airliner from the manufacturer to the headquarters in Toulouse; Pont de Pierre had to be slightly modified to allow the passage of barges, and thus became a new quintessential thing to do in Bordeaux in the process.
The Pont de Pierre is one of the main entrance points to the historic center and the easiest way to travel between the left and right bank of Bordeaux. The best place to admire the bridge, the newly renovated quays and the cityscape in the background is from the right bank on Quai Deschamps or Quai des Queyries, or better yet, from the middle of the bridge. It is possible to cross it on foot, by tram via Route A (stop at either Porte de Bourgogne or Stalingrad) or by car.