Gustav Eiffel and the Île aux Cygnes

A few weeks ago, I decided to walk to the western side of the city, past the Eiffel Tower. I had just discovered that there are, in fact, three islands in the Seine in Paris. The first two are well-known: Île de la Cité, which is home to Notre Dame, and Île Saint-Louis, which is immediately adjacent. Lesser known is Île aux Cygnes (Swans’ Island), which is just southwest of the Eiffel Tower. It barely shows up on the map because, as it turns out, it’s just a single tree-lined footpath in the middle of the river. 

There are, however, two notable things to see on Île aux Cygnes—and both were designed by Gustav Eiffel. The first is the obvious one: views of Gustav’s most iconic work, the Eiffel Tower. Although Île aux Cygnes is a little far afield for most tourists, I was surprised by the stunning views. It’s kind of fun to look at the Eiffel Tower from the opposite direction!

The second thing to see is Gustav Eiffel’s second-most famous statue: the Statue of Liberty. A quarter-size replica, given to the city by the American community in Paris, stands at the western end of Île aux Cygnes, looking west towards the US. Fun fact: there are actually many replicas across Paris. You can find Lady Liberty’s sisters at the Jardin du Luxembourg, Musée d’Orsay, Musée des Arts et Métiers… and probably a bunch of places I haven’t discovered yet.

Although Île aux Cygnes isn’t exactly a Must See tourist destination, I was pleasantly surprised by this little footpath in the river. Plus, my expedition to the island had the benefit of leading me past one place that absolutely should be on your Must See list. It’s my new favorite place for photos of the Eiffel Tower: the Passerelle Debilly. 

At first glance, you think that the views from this little footbridge won’t be anything special because the Tower is obscured by trees, but by the time you get to the middle of the river, you realize how wrong you were. The Eiffel Tower, the tree-lined Seine, love locks, no tourists in the background—it’s the best view of the Eiffel Tower around.

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