Hidden Treasures: Allée des Cygnes

allee des cygnes title final

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).

I used to live right near it and walked my dog there regularly but I hadn’t been for years. This weekend I took advantage of the sunny weather and headed over for a stroll.

The island was built in 1827, is 850 metres long and boasts a replica of the Statue of Liberty that faces west towards New York City. The statue was unveiled on 4 July 1889 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Interestingly, it was always intended to face west but the French President at the time, Marie Francois Sadi Carnot, 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 inaugurated facing east and only turned west in 1937 to coincide with that year’s exposition universelle.

Today the island is a wonderful 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. They seem to mostly grow on the sides facing the water – perhaps any botanists among you could explain why that is…

I’d recommend starting from the Pont Bir Hakeim where you’ll find the Viaduc de Passy, the overground 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.

I got a bit snap-happy with my iphone so here are some more lovely photos of my walk. This is definitely a place that shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the area to visit the Eiffel Tower anyway.

To visit Allée des Cygnes, take the metro line 6 to Passy or Bir Hakeim and head down onto the island from the bridge between the two stations.


10 responses to “Hidden Treasures: Allée des Cygnes

  1. Hi Andrew – I stayed in an appartment on Boulevard de Grenelle last September and I had a beautiful walk along Allee des Cygnes. It inspired me to write my first poem which of course I blogged about. Love the photos, brings back lovely memories.

    • Ah thanks Julie. It is such a lovely spot I’m not surprised you were inspired. Glad you enjoyed the photos – think I’m slowly getting better at the phone photography! Boulevard de Grenelle is such a great area. It’s where I stay every time I visit Paris.

  2. “Overwhelmed” by nostalgia, I decided to write a couple of words about this topic… As if I were driving the time-machine, I decided to head it directly back to the days of my youth, to the days when I was a high-school student with long hair decoiffé and the beard, wearing only black… Passy is my part of Paris and my lycee is (still) right there! I spent hours and hours there, enjoying the privileges of having my own sunny island in the heart of Paris. During the breaks, sometimes during the lunch break I used to go there and make sketches, croquis, sometimes even pastels-secs when I had more time… I like to angle, the eternal game of light and water, the perspective from the ground level… I usually occupied the right bank, overlooking Square Alboni (named after the famous italian contralto who sang together with P. Viardot… and who left all her estate to the poor of Paris), Av. du Pdt. Kennedy and the lovely buildings with well balanced facades… Well, now that you have unwillingly revealed “my” secret oasis, I decided to share these memories with you and your readers!
    P.S. I like your text and photos!

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