France has big rivers and great bridges – the spectacular Viaduc de Millau on the A75 autoroute(12 Aveyron, Midi-Pyrenees) and the Pont de Normandie on the A29 autoroute between Le Havre and the Normandie coast (14 Calvados, Normandie) being great recent examples.
Almost simultaneously the birth of 2 other spectacular bridges is being celebrated – the medieval Pont Valentre in Cahors (46 Lot, Midi-Pyrenees) celebrates 700 years, whilst the latest Pont Gustave Flaubert (see picture) is due be opened in time for the Rouen Armada in 2008
Rouen’s latest crossing of the River Seine is in the heart of the city and will take the A154 autoroute from the nothwest (Dieppe) through the city to connect with the A13 Autoroute from Normandie to Paris.
Because is is a city centre site, and the Seine carries ocean-going ships (and was a Transatlantic Cruise ship terminal) there is not enough space to build a traditional high span bridge, so this will be the largest vertical lift bridge in the world. When high masted ships need to pass, both dual carriageways will be lifted by cable to allow the ship underneath. For such a massive task the structure seems remarkably elegant – each roadway is 18m wide and 120m long and weighs 1300 tonnes.
When opened in the next few weeks (early July 2008) the notorious congestion in the city centre will be eased considerably.
Meanwhile in Cahors the South West, the fortified medieval Pont Valentre celebrates its 700th anniversary – and this was open to road traffic until only a few years ago, But now the city will pay homage to its most distinctive landmark In July 2008 there will be a banquet on the bridge itself prepared by some of the best chefs in the region – with music and dancing. and the bridge will be lit up every night from 10.30pm for 2 hours with a sound and light show which promised to be spectacular.
There is a website about the bridge’s 700th anniversary which has been inviting photographers from around the world to show their images of the bridge in all its moods