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Where Gumbo Was #3 and #3.5: Vernon and Paris

1-PP1000440The Old Mill is a survivor. Built onto a bridge to save money, it still stands, but the bridge is gone. Not only the one it first stood on, but several of its replacements.


1-180The first stone bridge, replacing a wooden one, was built in the early 1200s, shortly after Vernon became part of France; King Philip II ordered the bridge built so he could move his troops around more easily in his war with Richard the Lion-hearted. To keep from stretching the budget, the king sold off the right to fish from the bridge, and the right to build mills on it. There were once five.


vernon france seine mill vieux pont 3



Over the years, the cost of maintenance took its toll, and the bridge’s 25 stone arches were often replaced with wooden rigging when they fell; occasionally the town had to rely on ferry service for months or years. By the 1830s, there were only eight arches left, and most of the mills were gone.



[As Monet saw it, in about 1881. Wikimedia Commons, New Orleans Art Institute]


In 1858, construction started on a new bridge a few meters away, and the other mill-owners were bought out. That bridge, finished in 1861, was blown by French army engineers to stop a German advance. The next bridge, built in 1872 was closer to the old mill until the French army destroyed it in 1940. The postwar bridge that stands today is far enough away to leave the old mill standing as a picturesque sight.


The last-known owner of the mill, by the way, was an American who died in 1947; despite all effort, the town of Vernon was never able to locate his heirs. Town funds paid for stabilizing and restoring the building, but its ownership is still in limbo.

1-PP1000438 An interesting post with more details and pictures is HERE



We can't promise two puzzles a week, but #3 went so fast, we offered this one:

WITW #3.5


This picture has served as the cover shot for my Picasa album from a summer trip to Paris in 1995. Not a famous monument, nothing to eat, no glorious anything--but somehow, for me, it sums up three weeks of roaming Paris with no special plan.


Oh, yes. The where is it, what is it. The pattern on the sidewalk is the shadow of the elaborate cast-iron railing of the Pont Notre Dame, one of the bridges connecting the Right Bank with Ile de la Cite.

Railing detail, Pont Notre Dame [Railing Detail, Wikimedia Commons}


It's actually the oldest bridge site in Paris; there was a bridge there long enough ago to have been destroyed in a battle with Norman invaders in 886. Other bridges followed, notably one built in the early 15th century; it was all wood and had 60 houses and shops built on it (a common way to pay the cost of construction). Lack of maintenance did it in within 75 years, and it was replaced by a stone bridge with stone houses, which lasted until 1853, although the houses were removed 100 years before. The 1853 bridge's arches caused trouble for shipping, and the present single-arch bridge was installed in 1919.  More detail


Pont Notre Dame, 1756[Pont Notre Dame, 1756          Wikimedia Commons]


Images (8)
  • The Old Mill, Vernon
  • Mill detail
  • Mill
  • Houses_on_the_Old_Bridge_at_Vernon_circa_1883_by_Monet
  • vernon france seine mill vieux pont 3
  • On the Pont Notre Dame
  • Railing detail, Pont Notre Dame
  • Pont Notre Dame, 1756

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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Comments (4)

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Odd thing...these were originally written separately and I only just noticed that both of them involved bridges financed by house-building on them.


Might be interesting to see how many we can find where the shops or houses have survived. I can think of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and the Rialto bridge in Venice, but that's as far as I go...

This is turning into a rather scholarly discussion.  I like that old etching, GarryRF!  To the list of old bridges I'd like to add Pulteney Bridge in Bath, England, which I visited some time ago.  Don't believe I have a photo of it.


There are a number of modern bridges I've seen that have restaurants built into them, usually elevated (you have to take an elevator to get to them) and more for novelty and view than practicality of the entire thing (in the old days, at the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, the merchants just threw their waste into the river).    One that comes to mind is the "UFO bridge" (aka, Novy Most Bridge) in Bratislava, named for obvious reasons.  

Bratislava 043. Novy Most Bridge


Images (1)
  • Bratislava, Slovakia.  Novy Most Bridge
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