Posted by: nancycurteman | September 10, 2014

Le Pont Neuf: Setting for a New Murder Mystery

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Since the setting for my soon-to-be-released Lysi Weston mystery novel, Murder on the Seine is Pont Neuf in Paris, France, I decided to share a bit about the history of the celebrated bridge.

The Pont Neuf or new bridge is the oldest bridge in Paris. In 1550, Parisians requested that King Henry II build the new bridge to relieve medieval traffic congestion on Pont Notre-Dame. The Pont Neuf was not completed until the reign of Henry IV, who inaugurated it in 1607.

Pont Neuf was considered the first of the modern bridges in Paris and the most famous. It was the first stone bridge without houses crowding along it and was fitted with paved areas to protect people from mud and horses. Bastions along both sides of the bridge allowed pedestrians to step aside to avoid being run down by carriages. The bridge was christened New Bridge because King Henry IV insisted it not be lined with houses like all the older bridges as he wanted nothing to obstruct his view of the Louvre Palace.

At the point where the bridge crosses Ile de la Cité, the boat-shaped island in the middle of the Seine, stands a bronze equestrian statue of King Henry. He was nicknamed le Vert-Galant because of his appetite for love and his collection of mistresses. Legend has it there were 73 of them including many one-night stands. King Henry had other claims to fame. To this day the French call him “Le Bon Roi Henri,” the good king and for good reason. When he ascended the throne as a protestant he converted to Catholicism saying, “Paris is worth a mass” and soon after signed the Edict of Nantes bringing an end to the religious wars in France. In addition, he cared for the common people and famously promised a chicken in every pot.

The bridge had its problems from the very day it was constructed. Gangs hung out near it and robbed and murdered people who crossed. For a long time, the bridge even had its own gallows conveniently located to execute the many culprits captured in the area. In my novel, the victim is murdered on Le Pont Neuf.

Watch for Solstice Publishing’s release of Murder on the Seine in a couple of months.

More About Paris:

Montmartre Shouts and Whispers

Au Lapin Agile: A Place to Frolic With the French

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