Designed by Frenchman Frédéric Bartholdi, the Statue of Liberty was a gift to the US from France to mark the close ties between the two countries. It was inaugurated in 1886 after years of designing, fundraising and building. 130 years later it is a world famous symbol of New York.
I knew that Paris was home to several replicas of the Liberty statue but didn’t get around to seeing any of them on previous visits. With more time on our hands this time, we tracked a few down.
This isn’t an exhaustive list; there are others that we didn’t visit, notably the original plaster model and first small scale casting that currently are at home in the Musée des Arts et Métiers.
The big one
The largest sits at the end of Île aux Cygnes, a man-made island on the Seine in Paris’s 15th arrondissement. We walked to it after crossing to the island on the Bir Hakeim bridge, made famous by the movie Inception. It (the statue, not the bridge) was given to France by the US 3 years after the unveiling of the original to mark the 100th anniversary of the French revolution.
The smaller ones
The next two are connected (metaphorically, not physically). For over a century, a smaller replica sat in the awesome Luxembourg Gardens. It was commissioned and completed by Bartholdi himself. In 2014, it was moved to Musee d’Orsay (the impressive former train station converted into a museum in 1986). After the move a new model was cast, so that Luxembourg Gardens could retain its connection with the Liberty statue.
Last (in this list anyway) is a full scale replica of the Flame of Liberty. It was another gift from the US in 1989, this time to mark one hundred years since the raising of the New York statue. It is located right near our apartment just off Ponte de l’Alma (which I keep pronouncing in my head as llama…). The highway entrance just underneath the Flame is the tunnel where Princess Diana met her fate, and the Flame has become a shrine of sorts. On any given day there are groups of people paying respects and leaving flowers and messages on the base. This photo shows a rare moment of no people.
Why have a photo of the Eiffel Tower here at the bottom of a post about the Statue of Liberty? Gustave Eiffel designed the supporting structure and built the statue in his factory in France before it was sent in pieces to be assembled in New York. The lattice work construction used by the tower is also hidden inside the statue on Liberty Island. Who knew? Maybe you did already, but not me!