Isle aux Cygnes Paris, the Hidden Island

Written by on March 5, 2015 in Paris


One of my favourite places in all of Paris is frustratingly under-exposed through the usual guide books and tourist information sites. Right next to the Eiffel Tower, the Allée des Cygnes is a pedestrian route down a man-made island in the middle of the Seine between the 15th and 16th arrondissements. The island itself is known as Ile aux Cygnes (Isle of Swans), apparently named after an island called the Ile des Cygnes in the Seine that no longer exists.

ile-des-cygnesThe artificial island was built in 1827, is 850 metres long and only 11 metres wide, a long thing finger of land that was built to support the three bridges that cross it.  It boasts a replica of the Statue of Liberty that faces west towards her sister statue in New York City (built to ¼ scale). The statue was unveiled on 4 July 1889 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, a gift from America to Paris. Interestingly, it was always intended to face west but the French President at the time, the little known Marie Francois Sadi Carnot arranged for it to face east. He realised that the inauguration would be a bit of a dull event if crowds were gathered facing the back of Liberty’s head during the unveiling so it was launched facing east. It stayed that way for almost 40 years and was only turned west in 1937 to coincide with that year’s exposition universelle.

Today the island is a wonderful place to take a walk and boasts incredible views of the river banks and the Eiffel Tower. It’s a popular spot for jogging and dog-walking and at the western end there is a free outdoor gym with exercise machines for anyone to use.

The path is lined with trees whose branches reach over the banks like long spidery fingers.

allee-des-cygnes-parisI’d recommend starting from the Pont Bir Hakeim where you’ll find the Viaduc de Passy, the over ground railway that carries metro line 6. From there you can walk along the Allée and take in views of the Radio France building, the skyscrapers of the 15th arrondissement and finish with Lady Liberty herself.

This is definitely a place that shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the area to visit the Eiffel Tower anyway.

Andrew James is a blogger who writes about things to do in Paris away from the main tourist destinations and the history of the city. He has a fascination for the stories behind French streets named after non-French people.

Top photo CC Paris photographer Wazim

More great places to visit in Paris:

Louis Vuitton Foundation, an incredible new museum
Flea markets of Paris
Six of the best historic restaurants in Paris
Stohrer, the oldest cake shop in town

Tags: ,

Related Articles

Join a fabulous week-long Paris tour

Whether you’re travelling solo or with friends or family, a week-long escorted tour of Paris with A French Collection is the sort of trip where you’ll make memories and get to experience authentic Paris like a local. You’ll see the most legendary sights. Visit iconic museums and monuments. And, you’ll also go beyond the typical […]

Continue Reading

Best things to do in Paris in Winter

Best things to do in Paris in Winter

Written by on November 11, 2019 in Paris

Winter is a great time to visit Paris, the crowds are thin (except at Christmas), the cobbled streets on the hill of Montmartre glisten with frost and the city of light is as vibrant and bustling as ever. Any time of the year, this is a city you should wander. But in winter in Paris, […]

Continue Reading

Great hotels in Paris

Great hotels in Paris

Written by on October 1, 2019 in Paris

With more than 2000 hotels to choose from in Paris, it’s not easy so we’ve done the hard work for you. Tried and tested, enjoy our pick of the best hotels in the city of light… Fabulous and chic in the Marais The 5 Star MGallery Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet (above) is close to the […]

Continue Reading

Opera Garnier | Paris Opera House, mini-Versailles

Opera Garnier, Opera National de Paris or Palais Garnier, or more known commonly as the Paris Opera, whatever you call it, it’s generally considered to be one of the most important buildings in Paris. Opera Garnier | the Versailles of Opera Houses It’s actually not as old as you might think. In 1860, the city […]

Continue Reading

10 things to do on your birthday in Paris

If it’s your birthday, then Paris is the perfect place to spend it in style. This isn’t the economy version, after all, you only get one birthday a year, I’ve kept it mid-range price-wise but special. Fabulous places to visit, eat, drink and dance – with some free Champagne thrown in… Things to do on […]

Continue Reading


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.