Of course, everyone knows that the Statue of Liberty in New York was gifted by the people of France to the city during the 19th-century. But what many people don’t realise is that there are actually several Statues of Liberty dotted across the world, including several in Paris. And one of the more unique places where you can see one for yourself is that of the Paris Statue of Liberty, close to Pont de Grenelle on the Île aux Cygnes.
How did Paris end up with its very own Statue of Liberty?
Indeed, some of the places you’d least expect to find a Statue of Liberty (but they can be found) include the South West French city of Bordeaux, and four other places in Paris, excluding that of Île aux Cygnes. You see, while the French gave the New York Statue of Liberty to the people of the city in 1886, The US community in Paris returned the favour, gifting a smaller statue to the people of France in 1889.
Standing at 11.5 metres tall, the statue is officially known as Liberty Enlightening the World and was gifted on the centenary of the French Revolution. French President of the time, Marie François Sadi Carnot presided over the unveiling ceremony which took place on the 4th of July (i.e. American Independence Day).
Originally, the Statue faced East, towards the Eiffel Tower. However, during the World’s Fair of 1937, the statue was turned to face West, which also happens to be towards the USA. A tablet to the base of the Statue lists the following dates, July 4, 1776 (The American Revolution) and July 14, 1789 (The French Revolution).
Today, you can even spy the statue from the top of the Eiffel Tower, not to mention from many vantage points alongside the River Seine, and marvelling at the monument is easily one of the best things to do close to La Tour Eiffel. In more recent times, the statue has featured in several films, including National Treasure: Book of Secrets and Frantic.
How to visit the Statue of Liberty of Paris
Nowadays, the Statue of Liberty on the man-made island in the heart of the River Seine is to be found in the 15th arrondissement of the city and is a quarter-scale replica of the original. However, unlike the original of Ellis Island, this Statue of Liberty cannot be visited by the public and can only be admired from via the bridge.
Île aux Cygnes itself is the third-largest island in the River (the first being that of Île de la Cité and the second being Île Saint-Louis). In a rather confusing twist of fate, in times gone by, there was also an ‘Île des Cygnes’ which was attached to the Champ de Mars before it was absorbed into mainland Paris.
However, unlike the other two islands, that of Île aux Cygnes, the Isle of Swans as it is so-known in English, is actually manmade (which accounts for why its so rigid in shape) and was only created in 1827 to protect the Pont de Grenelle Bridge. Today the uninhabited isle boasts a pleasant park which is especially worth visiting during Paris in the fall.
Arts et Metiers Statue of Liberty
Of course, Pont de Grenelle is not the only location in the French capital to feature a Statue of Liberty, thoguh that of the 15th is undoubtedly the largest. For another glimpse of the Statue (and an exact replica of the model from which that of Statten Island is created), simply head to the main entranceway of the Musée des Arts et Métiers.
Situated in the third arrondissement of the city, the museum is set against the backdrop of a former priory and features exhibitions showcasing technological advancements in the past few centuries from across France and beyond. If you’re looking for a lesser-known museum in Paris, then this historic destination is the perfect place to spend an afternoon.