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new bridge coming at Bordeaux:
Pont Bacalan-Bastide
Pont Chaban-Delmas

new vertical lift bridge


click for introduction to motorways/autoroutes of France

the bridges of Bordeaux
Gustave Eiffel’s first work: the Eiffel passerelle, Bordeaux
a dream unfulfilled - the transporter bridge, Bordeaux
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on first arriving in France - driving

Click for motorways and motorway aires in France.

France is not England



a dream unfulfilled - the transporter bridge [pont transbordeur], Bordeaux photos

transbordeur/transporter bridges in France and the world 1:
why, who, when, where

transbordeur/transporter bridges in France and the world 2:
focus on Portugalete, Chicago, Rochefort-Martrou




Pont Chaban-Delmas
vertical lift bridges
structural statistics
the bridges of Bordeaux today
Passerelle Eiffel
three generations of trams at Bordeaux
Bordeaux transporter bridge

related pages

The Pont Chaban-Delmas, spanning the River Gironde between the Baclan and Bastide quarters of Bordeaux, is 433 metres long and 77 metres high, and so is one of the largest vertical lift bridges in Europe. Its pulley system means that the road bed can be fully lifted in 11 minutes.

Started in January 2010 and completed on the 31st December 2012, the Pont Chaban-Delmas in service from 17th March 2013. The day before, inaugural celebrations included a fun run, the Run of the Bridges, between this new bridge and the Pont de Pierre by thousands of runners. In the evening, there was a spectacular firework show using the bridge.

14:24 mins

This vertical lift bridge connects the Bacalan (left bank) and la Bastide quarters (right bank) of Bordeaux. The bridge has been nicknamed ‘le Pont Ba-Ba’. At the end of October 2012, the bridge officially became the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas (or Pont Chaban-Delmas), named after a former mayor of Bordeaux.

Some od the 38,000 visitors on the new bridge

On 1st January 2013, though only 20,000 souvenir bracelets had been made, 38,000 locals and ‘foreigners’ from neighbouring departments promenaded on the new bridge during six hours.

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Artist's impression of the Pont Bacalan-Bastide - the Bacalan-Bastide Bridge - to be built at Bordeaux

Artist's impressions of the Pont Chaban-Delmas - the Chaban-Delmas Bridge - built at Bordeaux. Images: Egis-JMI

Artist's impression of the Pont Bacalan-Bastide with centre section raised


new! Cathedrale Saint-Gatien at Tours  Cathedrale Saint-Gatien at Tours

Romanesque churches and cathedrals in south-west France updated: Romanesque churches and cathedrals in south-west France

 the perpendicular or English style of cathedral  Manchester cathedral

the fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris
the fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris
cathedral giants - Amiens and Beauvais

Stone tracery in church and cathedral construction illustrated
stone in church and cathedral construction

stained glass and cathedrals in Normandy illustrated graph

fortified churches, mostly in Les Landes

cathedral labyrinths and mazes in France
using metal in gothic cathedral construction

Germans in France
cathedral destruction during the French revolution, subsidiary page to Germans in France

Click for an introduction to cathedrals and stained glass in France.

on first arriving in France - driving
France is not England
paying at the péage (toll station)

Click for motorways and motorway aires in France.

Transbordeur bridges in France and the world 2: focus on Portugalete, Chicago, Rochefort-Martrou
Gustave Eiffel’s first work: the Eiffel passerelle, Bordeaux
a fifth bridge coming to Bordeaux: pont Chaban-Delmas, a new vertical lift bridge

France’s western isles: Ile de Ré
France’s western iles: Ile d’Oleron

Ile de France, Paris: in the context of Abelard and of French cathedrals
short biography of Pierre (Peter) Abelard

Marianne - a French national symbol, with French definitive stamps

la Belle Epoque
Grand Palais, Paris

Click to go to pages about Art Deco at

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Pic du Midi - observing stars clearly, A64
Carcassonne, A61: world heritage fortified city

Space City, Toulouse

the French umbrella & Aurillac

50 years old: Citroën DS
the Citroën 2CV: a French motoring icon

the forest as seen by Francois Mauriac, and today
Les Landes, places and playtime
roundabout art of Les Landes

Hermès scarves

Hèrmes logo

bastide towns
mardi gras! carnival in Basque country
country life in France: the poultry fair

what a hair cut! m & french pop/rock

Tour de France 2024

Le Tour de France: cycling tactics illustrated

New translation, the Magna Carta

There is a commemorative stamp of this bridge, issued by La Poste, the French Post Office:

French postage stamp of Pont Chaban-Delmas


vertical lift bridges

Vertical lift bridges are an uncommon solution to spanning a river used by large, or tall ships. As well as the Pont Chaban-Delmas, there is a vertical lift bridge at Rouen, and at Sacremento, California. There used to be one for a while at Rochefort.

Vertical lift bridges have a lifting centre section, so that large and tall ships may pass near to the city’s centre. It takes 12 minutes for the bridge to be either raised or lowered.

video from Sud-Ouest

Structural statistics of the Pont Chaban-Delmas

  • Roadway length 433 m
  • Roadbed width: 43 m
    Two lanes for public transport (trams),
    four car lanes
    two pedestrian and cycle tracks

Cross-section through the new bridge at Bordeaux. Image:
Cross-section through the new bridge at Bordeaux. Image:

  • Three steel road bed sections (fixed: 2 x 150m, lifting: 1 x 120m) will be made by Cimolai in Italy, close to Venice, and floated through the Mediterranean and the Atlantic to reach the Garonne river.
  • Length of mobile, lifting section: 117 m
  • Navigable channel width: 106 m
  • Pylon height: 77 m
  • Height of raised section above water when lifted: 53 m
  • Weight of liftable section: 2,600 tonnes
  • Time to raise roadway: 11 minutes
  • Predicted number of lifts in a year: 60
  • Protective bases, that enclose the lifting mechanisms: 44m by 18m, 16.5m high, about 5,000 tonnes weight
  • First stone laid: 9 December 2009, near avenue Lucien Faure
  • Bases and protective island for pylons: to be towed into position, then sunk: June 2010 for the left bank and January 2011 for the right bank
  • Pylons to be erected, access roads, lifting mechanism: 2011 to summer 2012
  • Installation of mobile section: summer 2012
  • Works to be completed: December 31st 2012
  • Workforce: between 800 and 900. A list of all those involved is being drawn up and will slid in amongst one of the piles.
  • Designers: Egis-JMI, Lavigne & Cheron Architects, and Hardesty & Hanover
    Thomas Lavigne is the son of Charles Lavigne who designed both the Pont de Normandie and the Pont Ile de Re.
  • Consultant engineer: Michel Virlogeux
  • Main constructor: Vinci Construction. On 17/3/2013, responsibility for running the bridge will be passed to Eiffage.
  • Overall cost: 145,8 million euro - City of Bordeaux: 94.27M €, State: 18.29M €, region: 15.24M €, département: 18M €
  • Annual maintenance budget: 0.5M €

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the bridges of Bordeaux today

Bordeaux straddles the river Garonne, as it approaches the Atlantic Ocean.

Google map locating past, present and future bridges at Bordeaux
Map locating past, present and future bridges at Bordeaux
hover with your mouse, clickable links change to a hand icon
colour code for labels - past: blue; current: green; future: yellow

Currently, going downstream, the functioning bridges at Bordeaux are:

  • the Pont François Mitterrand, opened in 1993
    Pont Francois Mitterand, Bordeaux. Image:  Jacques Mossot/

    The Pont d’Aquitaine and the Pont François Mitterrand are part of the rocade [ring road] around Bordeaux.

    Note that just upstream of the Pont Garonne is the Eiffel Passerelle, now a historic monument.

  • Pont Garonne, an railway bridge, opened in 2008, replacing the Passerelle Eiffel [previous railway bridge]
TGV trains passing on Pont Garonne
TGV trains passing on Pont Garonne
Pont Garonne, Bordeaux

Note that, because the Pont Garonne has been built so close to the Passerelle Eiffel, in the photo above the upper, cross-hatched, trellis part of the Passerelle Eiffel appears to be an upper part of the Pont Garonne.

Passerelle Eiffel and the Pont Garonne
the Passerelle Eiffel (on the left) and the Pont Garonne

  • the Pont Saint Jean, opened in 1965, just south of the Pont de Pierre
    Pont Saint Jean, Bordeaux

  • the Pont de Pierre [Stone Bridge], built between 1819 and 1822
    the is bridge has 17 arches, the number of letters in the name Napoleon Bonaparte, who ordered its construction
    Pont de Pierre, Bordeaux

    Note that between the Pont de Pierre and the Pont d’Aquitaine can be found the remains of the Bordeaux Transbordeur bridge , in due course, [2012] the Pont Bacalan-Bastide

  • the Pont d’Aquitaine, completed in 1967
    Pont d'Aquitaine, Bordeaux

    and part of the Bordeaux rocade [ring road] .




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  • the Eiffel passerelle
    There is also the iron railway bridge, the Passerelle Eiffel, completed by Gustave Eiffel in 1858 [his first construction project, when he was 26 years old]. It has been‘retired’ by cutting of the access at each end. This bridge, in former days, was known as the metal bridge [le pont metallique] and as the iron bridge [le pont de fer].

Passerelle Eiffel between the two world  wars
By the 20th century, an external footbridge and access stairs had been added to the Passerelle Eiffel

The Eiffel Passerelle took trains to the Gare du Midi, now called the Gare St-Jean.

Trams and horse-drawn taxis waiting for passengers at the Gare du Midi

three generations of trams at bordeaux

horse-drawn trams in Bordeaux

The first tramway system in Bordeaux began in 1880 with horse-drawn trams.

The horses were replaced, in due course, by a rudimentary form of ground-level electricity supply as the means of propulsion. By 1946, there were 38 tram lines, totalling 200 km, that carried 160,000 passengers a day.

Electric trams in Bordeaux

In 1947, an anti-tram mayor, Jacques Chaban-Delmas, was elected and the lines were closed one after another. The last line was closed in 1958, because of their hindrance to cars and the annoying rails set in the roads.

Despite the “all car” policy being a disaster, Bordeaux had to wait for the election of a new mayor, Alain Juppé in 1995 before the transport policy would change. The modern tram system of Bordeaux opened in 2003, with dedicated, separate tramlines. There is a ground-level power supply in central Bordeaux to avoid unsightly overhead cabling, so often to be seen in France, while in outer Bordeaux there are grassed tracks and overhead lines.

Modern tram in Bordeaux. Image: izzyguide
Image: izzyguide

Marker at

Artist's impression of the Bordeaux transporter bridgetransporter bridge

To unite the two sides of the Garonne, the first bridge built was the Pont de Pierre - the Stone Bridge. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, it was decided to build a transporter bridge, similar to those then recently built at Nantes and Marseilles (both since demolished). Transporter bridges allow large and tall ships to pass without hindrance. [The French for transporter bridge is pont transbordeur.]

The foundation stone of this Bordeaux transporter, or suspended car, bridge was laid in 1910. But today there is almost no trace of this bridge, once intended to be the biggest in the world of its type. has a separate page about this historic bridge at a dream unfulfilled - the transporter bridge [pont transbordeur], Bordeaux

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