History and visit the Pont au Change in Paris
The Pont-au-Change, situated in the fourth arrondissement of Paris on the right bank, stands as a testament to the city’s ancient past. This bridge, nestled between the Quai de la Corse and the bustling Place du Chatelet, has its roots tracing back to Roman Lutetia, the ancient predecessor of modern-day Paris. Much like the Petit Pont, the Pont-au-Change was essential for pedestrians traveling to the rustic outskirts of the city in bygone times.
Its significance grew in 1141 when King Louis VII decreed that the bridge would serve as the central hub for merchants and traders. Over time, the bridge became synonymous with trade and commerce, giving rise to its names, “Pont-aux-charger” and “Pont-au-Change”. In a significant historical event, in 1389, Queen Isabeau of Bavaria, wife of King Charles VI, made her grand entrance into Paris via this iconic bridge. As she reached the midpoint, a daring individual, holding a torch in each hand, descended from a cathedral tower using a rope. His bold intent? To crown the queen’s head with a laurel wreath in a display of homage.
Over the years, the bridge became a vibrant marketplace, especially on Sundays and public holidays, populated by bird-sellers. They were granted the privilege to occupy the bridge, with a unique condition. Whenever the king and queen traversed the bridge, these merchants were required to release more than 200 birds in honor of the royal couple’s passage. Further adding to the bridge’s colorful history, it was once a haven for dice players during the carnival season. However, this practice was officially discontinued in March 1604.
The Pont-au-Change has weathered multiple calamities throughout its history. In 1616, it withstood substantial water damage during a major flood. More devastating was the event of 23rd and 24th October 1621 when the neighboring Pont Marchand was engulfed in flames. Fanned by strong winds, the fire spread, and soon the Pont-au-Change too was consumed, reduced to mere ashes.
Transfer to the Pont au Change in Paris
If you’re looking to visit this historic landmark, it’s important to note its accessibility. The Pont-au-Change is conveniently located at a distance of 34 km from Roissy CDG airport, a mere 19 km from Orly Airport, and 105 km from Beauvais Airport. This makes it a well-connected spot for tourists and locals alike.