The Catastrophy of the Archevêché Bridge

Pont de l’Archêveché Paris 75005

Buses having been circulating in Paris for a little over a hundred years and are the preferred method of transportation for Parisians who prefer to avoid the crowds and unpleasant odors from the metro. If you manage to nab a seat, the bus can be quite enjoyable, especially on lines such as 89 (latin quarter), 86 (left bank/Bastille), and 69 (Eiffel tower, Louvre) where for a 2 euro ticket you can have your own Paris tour.

An example of a current Paris bus map

However like any method of transport, accidents do happen, and in this case, don’t necessarily involve a collision on the street. The deadliest Paris bus accident happened on the Archevêché Bridge September 27, 1911 when at about 5pm, the driver of the Line 205 bus (which ran from Jardin des Plantes to Square des Batignolles) lost control after swerving to avoid the same bus coming from the other direction, who had been stopped in the middle of the bridge to avoid running over a jay walking pedestrian.

Crashing through the metal barrier on the bridge, the bus plummeted into the Seine below, hitting the water with a force so hard witnesses described it as a cannon exploding. Carrying 27 people, the bus quickly began to sink to the horror of crowds gathering above.

One passenger, Abbot Antoine Richard- was traveling in the first class part of the bus with two children. They were able to escape by a window and after passing the young Max et Marguerite off to a nearby boat, he went back to save four others until his limited eye sight prevented him from finding passengers still trapped in the water. Another hero was Eugène Mèneveux, who was working nearby when the accident happened. A champion swimmer, he rushed to the scene and saved a few people as well. The bus was pulled out of the water the following day. In total, there were 14 deaths including the driver (4 bodies were never recovered, likely swept away) and 9 wounded.

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