While visiting Paris and enjoying your first soirée there’s an excellent chance someone, probably after that first Merlot, will ask that perennial question: How many Statue of Liberty copies exist in the city?
If the answers elude you, fret not. As an official Paris cognoscente (not legally, of course) I am happy to help out. Here then, a listing of the currently available Statue of Liberty replicas and the wondrously captivating attractions awaiting you at each one.
First … the introductions. Her official name is “La Liberté éclairant le monde” her original French name which then became “Liberty Enlightening the World”. We assume you’re up on the basics, so off we go…(can’t keep a lady waiting)!
1 Ile Aux Cygnes:
We start with the obvious – and one a bit hard to miss: the Lady L currently luxuriating on the prow of an islet in the Seine called Ile Aux Cygnes / Isle of the Swans. She took up residence here but three years after France gave the U.S. its larger sister (dedicated in 1886). This Liberty is courtesy of Paris’s American community and was given to Paris (1889) to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution.
Visit benefits: There are oodles of prime reasons to visit, the least of which is the priceless photo-op potential of lining up both the Lady and la Dame de Fer/Eiffel Tower in close proximity.
Never Underestimate the Power of Sororal Solidarity
Photographers craving that unique shot can mosey to nearby Pont Mirabeau/Bridge. (And if you do, make sure you walk along the far safer 15th arrondissement side).
Located between the 15th and 16th arrondissements, the islet tis but a hop from the very modern Beaugrenelle shopping center (whose Illy coffee kiosk offers sublime Java)! It also boasts a small work-out area with serene venues where, child-like, you may exult in the unalloyed joy of watching peniches lazily ply the Seine. It is also one of the few places to take in Paris’s sky-scrapper skyline view while on terra-firma.
This statue is near sculptor Bartholdi’s old atelier in Paris’ 17th . If you’re atop the Tour Eiffel, be sure to look down at this replica. Originally facing east, in 1937, year of the l’exposition universelle, it was turned west, which happens to face the U.S.
Trivia: Ile Aux Cygnes is Paris’ 3rd largest island and artificial, can you name the others? It was created to split busy Seine traffic and/or as support to its three bridges. At its widest, its a mere 11 meters or 36ft. …or, a touch more than needed for an NFL first-down. (Ans: Île de la Cité & Île Saint-Louis!).
2 Parc Luxo: Luxembourg Gardens
Another popular model is the Lady Liberty perched in the tony confines of the Luxembourg Gardens (6th arrondissement).
This was the model Bartholdi originally used to create the larger one for America. This more human-scaled copy is nestled within a copse of obliging trees in the western edge along rue Guynemer ( he a WWI French fighter pilot ace…). Bizarrely many websites claim this replica is difficult to find, which it isn’t! Having lived nearby I can attest to an almost factual ratio of four available Parisians for every lost tourist.
Visit benefits: Luxo is a pan-dimensional urban gem aglitter with myriad wonders for visitors! While there are too many to list, here’s a nutshell effort.
Just past the kids playground, go marvel at the oldest Merry-Go-Round in Paris (1879)! A wonder just bursting with renaissance charm to magically whisk you back to the days of jousting! Kids still scurry to mount their chipped-steeds among its creaky old cavalcade – an anachronistic marvel given the allure of today’s cell-phone entertainment juggernaut.
Once in the saddle and the aged rotating platform chuntering on, kids riding the outer edge (armed with wooden rods/lances) try to spear metal rings suspended off to the side.
Other attractions include:
Théâtre des Marionnettes du jardin du Luxembourg… This long treasured tradition and masterly puppetry show has been thrilling kids from ages three to ninety-three since 1933! Watching as kids and savvy tourists/adults bolt for the entrance when staff clang the bell is a singular joy.
There’s also the apple orchard, the Medici Fountain, an apiary (they sell the honey!) a green house, a rose garden, and the Orangerie, past green-house and current art exhibition center. (The pony rides are no more)! And finally, ample open spaces and immaculately manicured lawns to wile away hours while gazing above as Canadian-sized clouds majestically waft past…. You get the idea.
3 Musée d’Orsay –
Aside from seeing this Lady Liberty, you’ll want to visit d’Orsay to exult in its stunning collection, and to learn its history!
In the main hall, just as one enters, is perched yet another Lady Liberty. This one was crafted by Bartholdi for the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle. It was first given to the Musée du Luxembourg, then the Jardin du Luxembourg and in 2012, the Musée d’Orsay.
Visit benefits: A storied institution Musée d’Orsay began life as the Gare d’Orsay, a railway station built in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle on the site of a palace of the same name. Built with electric rails (ergo no vaulting glass ceiling to vent steam etc.) you can make out the old platform outline from the upper floors. It then fell on hard times, surviving as a WWII partial mail sorting center; prisoner reception center, and even a film set for Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ (by O. Wells!). In 1968 it was was happily Cinderella’ed into the current Musée d’Orsay.
Below are two of my 137 reasons to visit. And, yours?
Visit benefits: The obvious aside, the museum fronts the Seine and just to its left is the foot-bridge (passerelle) Léopold-Sédar-Senghor to the right bank…and the Tuileries Garden, near the Louvre. Or, head to the right and Place de la Concorde. If there, follow rue de Rivoli towards the Louvre to discover two English bookstores. Smith & Son (whose famed tea room serves a RED VELVET CAKE!) and further along, the old-world charm, wooden creaky floors and rolling ladders of venerable Galignani. The latter being the ‘The First English Bookshop Established on the Continent”
4 Musée des Arts et Métiers (National Museum of Arts and Crafts).
Aside from being a world-class institution, and one of the oldest (1794) of its kind, Arts et Métiers offers a premier showcasing of industry, technology and design inventions. It once bragged two Lady Liberty’s. One guarding the front entrance by the church and another, within. The former is currently on loan to the U.S. till 2031 which leaves but one …which is still more than enough reason to visit.
Visit benefits: The museum has mesmerizing historical gems chronicling early and current instrumentation, communications (TV & Radio) and innumerable techno-historical gizmos. Of note are the majestic early trains, automobiles and planes, including the plane flown by Clément Ader who some believe first flew 13 years before America’s Wright Brothers).
(Option: See old You-Tube post on the plane, here.)?
The fascinating architecture and much of the collection is in the deserted priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs. Also on display: The “Fardier à vapeur”, the world’s first car. First Car Trivia: A second model knocked over a stone wall, making this the world’s first car accident! (The inventor was apparently arrested and convicted of dangerous driving)!
5 Lady Liberty on Deck: The Peniche Replica:
Sitting serenely on the deck of a Parisian peniche, is yet another replica of the ‘Lady’.
Visit benefits: Ooof! … tons. As you can see… you are just across from the Eiffel Tower and …museums, the Champ de Mars, and all manner of fabulous attractions! However should you stay on this side of Seine you’ll be able to enjoy the unique views of western Paris just by walking along the riverbank!
6 Le Centaure –
Hidden within the breastplate of a very ‘interesting’ artwork called Le Centaure, is a lilliputian Lady Liberty. The statue gives off a sort of Alien movie vibe, as if she freed herself from its chest. Given the initial reaction to this statue, maybe she just wanted out.
The artwork lives on a small pedestal in a niche spot in the 6th at Place Michel Debré. The statue is by French sculptor César (Yes, the very César charged with creating the statue for the French film award, as in the … César).
Photos 15 & 16 (Think I broke my lens getting this! The actual statue —the tiny Lady Liberty, is on the breastplate! _
Visit benefits: There are a gazillion restaurants in but a 15 minute saunter (of note are famed Les Deux Magots & Café de Flore)! You can mosey to the river, or walk west towards Musée d’Orsay, or visit the Church of Saint-Sulpice, Invalides, Musée Rodin (and if you do, don’t miss its garden) or return to Jardin du Luxembourg. (Frankly, given the overwhelming possibilities, your best option is to just stay in Paris. Sell the apartment, have friends ship the cats/dogs, dump half those possessions (you don’t really need that many!) and enroll the kids in French schools. They’ll be rolling vowels, crushing sibilants and preforming linguistic grand jetés by Christmas. Easy!)
7 Who is this mysterious Lady Liberty and why is she living in a lobby of the rich and powerful?
So here we are. Inside the airy lobby of a palpably swish 8th arrondissement apartment building. We are but 100 meters (a block or three) from the Palais de L’Elysee. Yes, the seat of French government where what’s his name (Macron) works.
Totally unrelated but just minutes of this spot are statutes of both Winston Churchill and de Gaulle, both more or less content to be facing away from each other.
How this Lady Liberty got here is the tale for another day. (Hint, hint). But, she is there and if the stars are shining in your favor (i.e. the huge main door is left ajar) you can pop in and pay your respects. Or, not.
Visit benefits: Once here you are steps from one of the most charming spots in Paris, Avenue des Champs-Élysées! Yes, there are tacky parts (soon to undergo a pre-Olympic cosmetic make-over!), but much of the avenue is a joy to amble along, notably from Metro Franklin D. Roosevelt down towards Place de la Concorde… (And then, the Tuileries Garden)!
Lets Wrap This UP!
So, there are seven (7) Statue of Liberty replicas in Paris. In France there are undoubtedly hundreds and hundreds more. Let’s not even mention Colmar, France, birthplace of Bartholdi and now home to his museum. Worldwide, there are likely thousands of copies or replicas of “La Liberté éclairant le monde” worldwide…which if you think on it, makes sense given her real name.
But for now, feel free to enjoy that Parisian soirée in confidence…..
Author Note: I’ve omitted the iconic Princess Diana Flame of Liberty sculpture since its site was officially named Place Diana in 2019.
David Poratta is a Paris writer passionate about unearthing and sharing hidden, mesmerizing and off-the-beaten-path Parisian or French stories. And always for free. He created 60secondparis as a way of showcasing these features. David has lectured at Université Paris Dauphine & ISEFAC and other institutes. His media credentials includes reporting and producing at Canadian & US TV outlets, including, among others, the CBC (Canada), ABC-TV, The Wall Street Journal Television, FORBES et. al. He also produces the free 60secondparis newsletter.