Les Amants du Pont-Neuf is a 1991 French film directed by Leos Carax; the title refers to the Pont-Neuf public bridge, located in the center in Paris. The film follows a love story between two young vagrants, Alex (Denis Lavant), a would be circus performer addicted to alcohol and sedatives, and Michele (Juliette Binoche), a painter with a disease that is slowly turning her blind.
The shooting started in 1988. At the beginning, the production team wanted to film the daylight scenes on the actual bridge, and the night time scenes on a simplified model. They received the authorisation for blocking off the Pont-Neuf from July 28 to August 18. Unfortunately, early August lead actor Denis Lavant injured the tendon in his thumb in a work accident, and the film had to be halted although only a few minutes of footage had been shot, and by the time he recovered, it was impossible to block off the bridge again.
Therefore, production team decided to build a set in nature with the help of the set designer Michel Vandestein. Vandestein reconstructed the Pont-Neuf from bank to bank on a 2/3 scale at La Tartuguière, in the town of Lansargues, in southern France. The bridge, 470-metre (1,542-ft) long and 340-metre (1,115.5-ft) large, was surrounded by a section of the Seine and the riverside buildings, on a total of 8.5 hectares (21 acres). This set was a financial disaster: it suffered greatly from the wind and had to be redone and up to 400 technicians had to work in turn on the site to take care of it. Construction and shooting lasted 3 years (1988-1991) and was stopped many times. Consequently, the film budget was quadrupled, reaching almost 120 million euros. To this day, it remains the most expensive set of French cinema; nevertheless, it was burnt down shortly before the film premiered out of competition at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.