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There are many magnificent sites one can expect to see from the top of the Eiffel Tower: the Arc de Triomphe; Notre-Dame Cathedral; the Louvre. Something one might not expect to see is a replica of the Statue of Liberty. And yet, just to the south, smack dab in the middle of the river Seine, by golly there it is.
The quarter-scale replica sits on the southern end of Île aux Cygnes, an artificial island built in the Seine in 1827 to separate river traffic from the busy port of Grenelle. Over time, a tree-lined walkway was built that runs the full 850-meter length of the island, and three bridges were built across the island to connect the 15th and 16th arrondissements. Île aux Cygnes is the third-largest island in Paris.
The statue itself was given to the city of Paris in 1889 by the American community in Paris to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. In characteristic American fashion, the statue was officially inaugurated on the Fourth of July (a date not at all associated with the French Revolution) rather than Bastille Day (a mere 10 days later, and often described to the uninitiated as the “French Fourth of July”). To be fair, the inauguration was presided over by French President Marie François Sadi Carnot, who probably had other things to do on Bastille Day. (Also, the statue’s tablet bears the date July 14, 1789, as well as July 4, 1776.) The gift was given to highlight the historically close bond between France and the United States and reaffirm the dedication of the two nations to the republican ideal on which they were founded.
This Pont de Grenelle Statue of Liberty was installed some three years after the New York Statue of Liberty, and in fact was originally one of the working models made whilst preparing to construct the “real thing.” The statue can be accessed via either the Pont de Grenelle or the Pont de Bir-Hakeim, both of which cross the Île aux Cygnes. While this is not the only Statue of Liberty replica in Paris—both the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée des Arts et Métiers house their own—this is the only Statue of Liberty replica in Paris that was featured in National Treasure: Book of Secrets. That alone is worth the cost of admission.*
*Admission costs nothing.
Submitted by Atlas Obscura contributor e23rutland.
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