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Île aux Cygnes

The long, narrow Île aux Cygnes, or "Island of the Swans," is a pleasant place to walk, jog, or enjoy nature. The peaceful pedestrian island is in the middle of the Seine, not far from the Eiffel Tower.

Île aux Cygnes and Eiffel Tower

ABOVE: The Île aux Cygnes offers views of the Eiffel Tower, moored river vessels, and passing boat traffic on the Seine.

When you think of "islands in the Seine," the first--and perhaps only--islands that come to mind are likely to be the Île de la Cité (home to Notre Dame, the Concergerie, and Saint-Chapelle) and the Île Saint-Louis (known for several attractive small hotels, tourist shops and restaurants, and the Berthillon ice-cream parlor).

But there's another island that you should know about, if only because most visitors don't. It's called the Île aux Cygnes, a.k.a. "Island of the Swans" or "Swan Island," and it's a pleasant place to walk, jog, or enjoy nature and river views away from the tour-group crowds.

The peaceful island is only about 850 meters or less than half a mÎle long, with a width of 11 meters (36 feet), making it narrower than the average river-cruise ship. It consists mostly of a long path between greenery and benches, with a climbing wall, exercise equipment, and a replica of New York's Statue of Liberty added for good measure.

  • Note: If the island looks artificial, that's because it is. The Île aux Cygnes was created in 1825 to protect a predecessor to today's Pont de Grenelle from river currents. (The original wooden bridge was replaced several times over the next century and a half, with the current bridge dating to 1968.)

How to reach the 'Island of the Swans':

You can reach the island from the pedestrian level of the Pont de Bir Hakeim (near the Eiffel Tower) or the next major bridge, the Pont de Grenelle.

The closest Métro stop is Bir Hakeim (Line 6, which runs from the ÉtoÎle to Nation by a ziz-zag route on the Right and Left Banks). RER trains also stop near the island, at Champ de Mars (Line C) on the Left Bank and Avenue du Président Kennedy - Radio France (Line C1) on the Right Bank.

More photos of the Île aux Cygnes:

BELOW: If you're coming from the Eiffel Tower area, cross the Pont de Bir Hakeim to the island, which is in the middle of the Seine. (You may encounter a wedding couple--we've seen wedding photographers and bridal couples on our two most recent visits to the bridge.)

Eiffel Tower from Pont de Bir Hakeim

Wedding photography on Pont de Bir Hakeim

BELOW: From the Pont de Bir Hakeim, steps lead down to  the Allée aux Cygnes, a footpath that runs the length of the island.

Steps from Pont de Bir Hakeim to Island of the Swans

BELOW: The  Île aux Cygnes is popular with joggers and walkers, including families with children.

Runners on Île aux Cygnes

Walkers on Île aux Cygnes

BELOW: The Seine is narrow on both sides of the island. On the Left Bank side, you'll see river vessels, such as Swiss Ruby, moored in the Paris river-cruise port between week-long voyages downriver to Normandy.

In the lower two photos, you can see the modern buildings that line the riverfront in this area of Paris.

View of river vessels from Île aux Cygnes

SWISS RUBY on the Seine

Modern Paris buildings on the Seine

BELOW: In addition to river-cruise ships, you're likely to see barges and other boat traffic. (The two smaller boats in the photo below are cabin cruisers with German flags.)

Boat traffic on the Seine from Île aux Cygnes

BELOW: In this photo from the island's southern embankment, you can see the Pont de Bir Hakeim (including the electric catenary system of Metro Line 6, which crosses the Seine on the bridge). The Eiffel Tower is in the background.

Tour Eiffel from Île aux Cygnes

BELOW: Another bridge, the Pont Rouelle, curves across the island. This is a railway bridge for RER trains between the Avenue du President Kennedy - Radio France and Champ de Mars stations.

Pont Rouelle

BELOW: A pedestrian tunnel punctuates the Allée aux Cygnes beneath the Pont Rouelle.

Tunnel on Allee aux Cygnes

BELOW: Nature is one of the island's drawing cards, with signs identifying trees and shrubbery.

Tree sign on Île aux Cygnes

BELOW: The Île aux Cynes is named after swans, but ducks also make their home on the island.

Swan by Île aux Cygnes, Paris

Ducks on Île aux Cygnes

BELOW: Love padlocks desecrate a railing along the island's shore.

Love padlocks on Île aux Cygnes

BELOW: If you can't find an empty bench to sit on, you can settle for a bollard.

Cheryl Imboden on Swan Island, Paris

BELOW: A few years ago, the city installed a climbing wall and exercise equipment near the southern end of the island, beneath the piers and roadway of the Pont de Grenelle.

Climbing wall on Île aux Cygnes

Exercise equipment on Île aux Cygnes

BELOW: Just beyond the Pont de Grenelle, at the southernmost tip of the island, is a replica of New York's Statue of Liberty.

The statue was cast from a 11-meter (36-foot) mold that the sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, had made from his original plaster scale model in 1885.

Statue of Liberty replica on Île aux Cygnes

Statue of Liberty replica by Pont de Grenelle, Paris

BELOW: If you entered the island via the Pont de Bir Hakeim, we recommend leaving on the Pont de Grenelle. (Steps lead up to the roadway.) You'll get a nice view of the island, the Seine, and sights in the distance--including the Eiffel Tower, shown below.

From the Right Bank side of the Seine, you can walk inland, past Radio France, to the commercial heart of the upscale 16th arrondissement.

View of Île aux Cygnes from Pont de Grenelle, Paris

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for About.com, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (including Paris for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

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