...and the troubles about the use of it.
During the early thirties, the City of Paris decided to replace the old metallic Pont du Carrousel (Carrousel Bridge), one of the 37 bridges over La Seine, by a new one. The structure of the bridge, built in 1833, was now too low for the constantly increasing navigation over the river.
The construction of the new bridge started in 1935. It was to last till 1939. Although the bridge was made of reinforced concrete, due to the historical environment and in order to blend with it - the Louvre, theTuileries on the right bank, the XVIIe and XVIIIe centuries façades on the left bank - the structure of the new bridge was to be covered with stone.
A touch of modernism, though, was welcome. It was decided that the modern, trendy touch will be added up by the light fixtures of the bridge, say a couple of spectacular réverbères placed on both heads of the bridge. Easier said than done. In order not to ruin the perspective of the Louvre, those réverbères could not be higher than 13 meters (42,651 ft) but, in order not to blind the car drivers on both banks, they could not be lower than 20 meters (65,617 ft). The man to take up the challenge, Raymond Subes, a talented French craftsman in wrought iron, was not an unknown artist by any mean. Apart from fabulous pieces of metal furnitures in his usual classy style...
...Raymond Subes was famous for countless wrought iron achievements in places as prestigious as the Lutetia Hotel, the George V Hotel, the Fouquets' Restaurant, the Banque de France, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, all the major luxury French ocean liners of the time and many pavilions in World Fairs. Raymond Subes so, designed two pairs of giant metallic candelabras, one for each bank, in the purest, most elegant late Art Deco-forties style:
In order to match the above mentionned height requirements, Subes designed these candelabras to be... telescopic. By day, in lower position, the réverbères were 12 meters high (39,370 ft) while by night, the lit up heads of the candelabras were supposed to raise up to 19 meters high (62,336 ft) thank to a chains and cogs mecanism.
With the coming of WWII, Subes failed to get the necessary amount of iron for his candelabras. So involved in his project he was though, that he did'nt hesitate to steel 45 tons of cast iron and copper from the Germans to complete his réverbères, he kept hiden till the end of the war. It was not before 1946 that the spectacular light fixtures were finally set up on both sides of the bridge. The mecanism, at last, raised up the lit up heads for the first time.
And the last one, too.
The too rudimentary, ill fated mecanism got stuck and the candelabras remained in lower position since then. It is only in 2000 that the City of Paris finally had the four réverbères restored and their mecanism replaced by a new one with cables this time, while their whole structure was reinforced and stabilised for a 6,8 millions euros cost. Most Parisians had no idea about the whole thing, so the third millenary opened for them (and many tourists) with this extra luminous surprise for passers bye, when the night falls and the réverbères are put in motion.