France Bridges 90 to 100 meters

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Truyère River frame bridge

Located just downstream of Eiffel’s famous Garabit Viaduct, the A75 crossing of the Truyère River is a welcome next door neighbor that arrived in 1993. The largest concrete frame bridge ever built, the main span measures 641 feet (195.5 mtrs) between hinges. The deck is 262 feet (80 mtrs) above the full reservoir and 322 feet (98 mtrs) above the old river level. During construction, the angled strut legs of this massive span were supported by an additional vertical pier that was removed once the span was completed. The Garabit Viaduct can be seen from an exit and overlook just north of the river crossing near St. Flour in the Auvergne region of France.

One of the highest road bridges in France at the time of its completion in 1887, the L’Abime bridge (94 meters high) crosses over the deep chasm of the Chéran River in Gruffy, France. Designer and engineer Ferdinand Arnodin would go on to build the world’s highest bridge in Constantine, Algeria called the Sidi M’Cid.

The use of a mixed cable support system combining suspension cables for the center of the span and cable stays for the deck sections near the towers was not common outside of France and was not used on a major suspension bridge for at least half a century until 1997 when the Wujiang bridge opened in Wujiang, Guizhou province, China. In North America, the only large suspension bridges with cable stays are the Brooklyn bridge in New York, the Roebling bridge (Cincinnati-Covington) in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Wheeling bridge, also in Ohio.

As an engineer, Arnodin would became most famous for designing 9 of the 20 transporter bridges ever built. Three of these rare transportation structures still exist and retain his signature mix of suspension and cable stays.

Viaduc de Rochers Noirs when it was still in use as a railway bridge

One of the highest railway bridges in France, the Viaduc d’Evaux-les-Bains (91 meters high), is a classic French wrought iron truss bridge of the era. Similar to the Viaduct de Fades but on a smaller scale, the Bains consists of two massive masonry piers that support three lattice box beam spans 27 feet (8.3 mtrs) deep. The central Tardes River span is 343 feet (104.55 mtrs) long. In January of 1884, a strong wind knocked over a portion of the bridge still under construction.

The viaduc de Rochers Noirs (90 meters high) is a rare French railway cable stayed bridge not unlike the Cassagne bridge that was built several years earlier by Gisclard. Viaduc des Rochers Noirs was constructed by the famous French engineer Ferdinand Arnodin who had designed the world’s highest bridge - the Sidi M’Cid in Constantine, Algeria - in the same time period. The design is actually credited to Maret. Unlike most cable stayed bridges, the stays of the Rochers Noirs do not terminate in the deck but continue to travel horizontally a few feet above the deck until they reach a ground anchorage at the far end of the bridge. The steep slope on one side of the bridge required a masonry tower 150 feet (45.56 mtrs) in height. The main span is 459 feet (140 mtrs). The bridge was originally known as the bridge of Lapleau (Correze) and is the highest structure on the line connecting Tulle to Ussel. Railway traffic finally stopped in 1959 and in 1983 the bridge was opened for pedestrians.

The current Ponsonnas arch replaced a suspension bridge

Located 1 mile (1.6 kms) south of La Mure in France’s beautiful Rhône-Alpes region is the Ponsonnas arch bridge (90 meters high). Originally built in 1863 as a suspension bridge, it was replaced with a concrete arch in 1941 that was designed by the famous French engineer Albert Caquot. The original suspension bridge towers assisted in the construction of the new arch. Ponsonnas is a popular bungee site. You can find out more here:

Also in the La Mure region and not to be missed is the 110 meter high Roizonne arch bridge. Originally a train bridge, the span was eventually converted to road use. Also referred to as the Pont de la Mure, the main arch of 244 feet (74.44 mtrs) is a semicircle with 4 smaller arches above the spandrels on either side.

The La Mure region has 3 other high bridges worth visiting. 5 miles further west, a suspension bridge along route D34 crosses at least 164 feet (50 mtrs) over the L'Ebron arm of the Lac Monteynard-Avignonet reservoir. Just downstream of the D34 crossing is the Passerelle L'Ebron, one of two high footbridges that cross over the Lac Monteynard-Avignonet reservoir. The other is the Passerelle Himalayenne over the Drac and located 4 miles (6 kms) southwest of La Mure at the small town of Mayres-Savel. Both are at least 164 feet (50 mtrs) above the water - even higher if the reservoir level is down.

One of those mountain hugging snakelike viaducts that are so common in France, Austria, Germany and Italy, the Nantua Viaduct (90 meters high) was originally built as a 2-lane bridge in 1988. A second viaduct was added to the first one in 1996. Constructed in the traditional balanced cantilever method, the main spans are 410 feet (124 mtrs) with a maximum pier height of 282 feet (86 mtrs). The west end of the bridge terminates into a tunnel while the east end is connected to the lower but nearly as long Viaduc de Neyrolles.

Cassagne Railway bridge designed by Gisclard

The highest footbridge in France (excluding the converted Charles Albert suspension bridge), the Passerelle Holzarte (90 meters high) is a small suspension bridge that was constructed in 1920 near Larrau, France just a few miles from the border of Spain. Some reports have a height of more than 100 meters but until I can measure it, I will leave it in the sub-100 meter category.

One of the highest road bridges in France at the time of its completion in 1889, the Pont Baldy sur la Cerveyrette (85 meters high) was a truss arch with a span of just 171 feet (52 mtrs). Located near Briancon, it would seem the bridge was removed for the construction of the Pont Baldy dam in the 1960s.

Threading in and out of tunnels and across several high bridges on its way towards the Italian border, the A8 was a challenging highway for the French to build. The Viaduc du Rank (85 meters high) near Gorbio is the second highest bridge on the route after the Magnan Viaduct and has piers with a similar style. The spans are approximately 148 feet (45 mtrs) in length.

The highest water aqueduct ever built in France, the colossal Pont de Roquefavour (82 meters high) was completed in 1847 near Ventabren, France. The largest structure of the Canal de Marseille, it was declared a National Monument in 2005. You can read all about the history of the canal here:

Pont de la Mariée high above the Gorges de Daluis

A one-of-a-kind cable stayed railway bridge, the Pont Gisclard or Pont Cassagne (80 meters high) was built in 1909 along a narrow gauge railway in the mountainous Eastern Pyrenees region of France. Bridge engineer Gisclard’s bridges had unique angled stays that do not terminate in the deck but continue to travel horizontally a few feet above the deck until they reach a ground anchorage at the far end of the bridge. The main span is 512 feet (156 meters). You can still ride the narrow gauge railway that runs over the bridge.

Yet another tall viaduct on France’s incredible A89, the Clidane Viaduct (80 meters high) has a central span of 433 feet (132 mtrs) and 5 smaller sized spans of varying lengths. Just two miles to the west is the beautiful 328 foot (100 mtr) high monocable Chavanon suspension bridge. Both bridges are just east of the town of Bourg-Lastic.

Located just 2 miles west of the groundbreaking 328 foot (100 mtr) high monocable Chavanon suspension bridge, the Viaduc de la Barricade (80 meters high) is a simple prestressed concrete beam bridge with a main span of 492 feet (150 mtrs).

An obscure bridge high above the Gorges de Daluis, the Pont de la Mariée (80 meters high) is a concrete arch bridge with a hinge at the crown. Originally a tramway (trolley) bridge, the span was eventually converted to road use. The bridge is located just south of Guillaumes. Bungy jumping is offered during the summer. Find out more here:

A sister bridge to the Viaduc du Rank, the Viaduc du Sainte-Agnes (75 meters high) near Menton is similar in design with tapered piers and 148 foot (45 mtr) spans. Located on the A8, the two long viaducts are not nearly as lofty as the nearby Viaduc du Magnan with a road deck 404 feet (123 mtr) high.

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