Pont-de-l’Arche, though now a small mean town, may boast of high antiquity, if it be rightly believed to be the ancient Pistae, the seat of the palace erected by Charles the Bald, in which that sovereign convened councils in the years 861 and 869, and held assemblies of his nobles in 862 and 864; and from which, his edicts promulgated in those years, are dated. The same monarch also built here a magnificent bridge, defended at one extremity by a citadel upon a small island.—From this there seems every reason to believe that the town has derived its name; for, in a diploma issued by our Henry IInd, he calls the place Pontem Arcis; and its present appellation is nothing but its Latin name translated into French. The fortress at the head of the bridge was demolished about thirty years ago, at the time when Millin published his account of the town. The plate attached to that account, represents one of the towers as still standing.—Though deprived of its citadel, Pont-de-l’Arche retains to the present day its walls, flanked by circular towers; and its bridge, which is the lowest stone bridge down the Seine, is a noble one of twenty-two arches, through which the river at a considerable depth below, rolls with extraordinary rapidity. In the length of this bridge are some mills, which are turned by the stream; and the current is moderated under one of the arches, by a lock placed on the down-stream side, into which barges pass, and so proceed with security; The bridge, with its mills, forms a very picturesque object.
At a short distance from the bridge, to the left, looking towards Paris, is the Colline des deux amans, formerly surmounted by the priory of the same name. Of the history of the monastery nothing is known with certainty, nor is even the date of its foundation ascertained, though it is stated by Millin to be one of the most ancient in Normandy. But the traditionary tale connected with this convent, forms the subject of one of the lays of Mary of France; and it has been elegantly translated by the late Mr. Ellis, in the introduction to his History of our Ancient Metrical Romances;—Du Plessis is, however, of opinion, that the name of the priory is nothing more than a corruption from the words, deux monts, in allusion to the twin hills, on one of which it stands; or, if lovers must have any thing to do with the appellation, he piously suggests that divine love may have been intended, and that the parties were no other than our Savior and the Virgin, whose images were placed over the door of the conventual church.