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Next time you pass by the Pont Neuf, take a look at the gallery of faces below. These fellows have been living under the bridge for a long time now. “Les Mascarons” wear all possible human expressions, or so they say, from violence to joviality and salaciousness. Historians keep arguing on their original meaning. Some say these are the caricatures of the king’s mistresses. Others think they are rather the men that Henri XIV cuckolded. Still others believe this was a physiognomic example of the features of common people back in the day the bridge was built. Of all that, this much is true – a “mascaron” (as the sculptures are called) is an architectural term describing a (sometimes frightening) face, whose function was to scare away evil spirits so that they would not come near.

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