When you think of the Statue of Liberty, what comes to mind? Most likely, you think of New York City. But did you know that there is a Statue of Liberty in Paris? Actually, there are several! I will tell you where to find them all. Each one is impressive in its own way, so you won’t be disappointed.
And even beyond Paris, there are more statues of liberties to see! I will take a look at the different locations where you can find this iconic statue around Paris and throughout France. So put on your walking shoes and let’s get started!
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A brief history of the Statue of Liberty
The very first image that pops in your mind when you think of New York is perhaps the larger-than-life statue of Lady Liberty depicting the freedom and independence of the US. She was a symbol of welcoming for immigrants entering through the sea routes.
While the statue is a national American treasure, it was designed and built by a Frenchman and given to the United States as a gift to not only celebrate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence but also to strengthen the relations between France and the USA.
Known as Liberté éclairant le monde (Liberty Enlightening the World), the statue was the brainchild of French poet and anti-slavery activist Édouard de Laboulay. It was conceptualized by sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel (that’s right, the man who also made the Eiffel Tower).
In June 1871, Bartholdi crossed the Atlantic to execute his plan and suggested placing the statue at the entrance of the New York port. He returned with ideas of the statue representing Libertas, the Goddess of Freedom. A joint project between France and the United States was formally announced in 1875.
The statue was based on the woman on “The Great Seal of France” (Grand Sceau de la République française), the official seal of the French Republic. The woman, wearing a crown with seven arches and holding an ax in the middle of a bundle of rods, was the symbol of power since the end of the Roman empire.
The design included much symbolism- the crown represented light with the spikes bringing to mind the sun rays extending out into the new world; the tablet’s inscription (July 4th, 1776 written in Roman numerals) pointing to the American independence; and broken shackle and chains on the foot a reference to the end of slavery.
The statue was built entirely in France and was finally finished in 1884. It was then taken apart and sent to New York city to be pieced back together and was officially inaugurated in 1886.
Why is there a Statue of Liberty in Paris?
While the colossal Statue of Liberty’s home is in New York, there are several smaller statues scattered around Paris. Bartholdi created numerous replicas which were then given to different museums and organizations that remain a part of Paris even today.
When Bartholdi began executing his vision of the statue, a plaster cast model was produced as an initial design. This model, after Bartholdi’s death, was donated to the Musée des Arts de Paris by his widow. A bronze model that was made was later installed in the Île aux Cygnes on the river Seine in 1885. A second bronze model was donated by Bartholdi to the Musée du Luxembourg.
How many Statues of Liberty are in Paris?
The city of Paris has six replicas of the Statues of Liberty in the following locations:
Île aux Cygnes
Located on the river Seine in the 15th arrondissement, the Île aux Cygnes (Isle of Swans) has a bronze Statue of Liberty that was installed there in 1885. It is the largest replica in Paris (16 m tall) and was officially inaugurated in 1889. It was initially installed facing East (away from America) and did not serve the purpose of strengthening the relations between the two countries. During the Universal Exposition of 1937, the statue was moved to face the United States as it was originally supposed to. The tablet on this statue reads, “IV Juillet 1776 = XIV Julliet 1789,” a nod to the dates of the start of the American and the French revolutions respectively.
The isle is located between Pont Grenelle and Pont Bir-Hakim, and the replica is placed on the southern tip. The island is now a great spot lined with trees and includes various sports facilities with a direct view of the Eiffel Tower.
Along with Degas and Van Gogh, Musée d’Orsay is also home to a Statue of Liberty. Standing at the entrance of the museum’s nave, this statue once resided in the Jardin du Luxembourg. It was a part of the Musée du Luxembourg since 1889 when Bartholdi had donated a bronze model to the museum but due to the already extensive art collection, the statue stayed in the Luxembourg Gardens. The 1/16th scale version remained there until 2011. The artifacts from the Luxembourg Museum were donated to the Louvre and Orsay, changing the statue’s residence.
The tablet of the statue in the Orsay Museum reads “15 de Novembre 1889”, referencing the date when the 1/8th scale version was inaugurated on the Île aux Cygnes, and also commemorating the centennial of the French Revolution. The next time you take a visit to the Orsay Museum, don’t forget to keep an eye out for Lady Liberty!
Jardin du Luxembourg
Probably the most easily accessible Statue of Liberty in Paris is the one located in the Luxembourg Gardens. Located on the western side, the pedestal initially held the Statue of Liberty from the Luxembourg Museum (which was moved to Orsay Musem in the year 2012). In its place stands a bronze replica. The American community in Paris also planted an American oak beside the statue in the memory of the victims of 09/11.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
Musée des Arts et Métiers also used to house a replica of the Statue of Liberty. It was supposed to be the original Statue of Liberty that was used by Bartholdi to create the scaled-up version of the New York statue.
The 2.83 m bronze statue was shipped to America in July 2021 where it stayed on Ellis Island on July 4th and was then moved to the French Embassy in the United States on July 14th. The statue will remain in the garden of the residence of the French Ambassador to the United States in Washington DC for the next ten years.
The museum has another replica of the Statue of Liberty at the entryway.
Place Michel Debré
A centaur statue in the new realist style stands proudly in Place Michel Debré in the 6th Arrondissement of Paris. It was created by the French artist Cesaris as a homage to Picasso in 1985 for the French Ministry of Culture. The statue has a lot of elements to take in but if you look closely enough, you’ll find a miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty on the centaur’s chest.
The Flame of Liberty
The American Chamber of Commerce gifted a gilded reproduction of Liberty’s Flame (Flamme de la Liberté) to Paris in 1989. Around 3.5m in height, it is a 1:1 scale replica and it stands at the northern end of the Pont d’Alma in the 16th Arrondissement. Incidentally, it is the area where Princess Diana met with her untimely death in 1997 in the tunnel beneath Pont d’Alma. It became an unofficial memorial, and tourists often believe that it was built in her memory. The site has been officially named Place Diana since 2019.
Route de Liberty
We have routes in every state of America from the green chili route in Mew Mexico to the bourbon route in Tennessee to the Hoosier pie trail route in Indiana. There are also plenty of routes in France. The cider routes in Normandy and Brittany, the oyster route on the coast of Morbihan (also in Brittany), and my personal favorite, the eclair route in Paris, okay maybe that one isn’t official but Mr. Misadventures and I have done it!
But what about the route to liberty? National and global politics being what they are and the near-constant cries of “encroaching on my freedom, my liberty, my right to do XYZ” got me thinking about America’s ultimate symbol of liberty, Lady Liberty herself. I decided it would be a good reminder of what she stood for and where she came from if I picked up her trail.
How many Statues of Liberty are there in France?
Paris is not the only city in France that has several replicas of the Statue of Liberty. Around 30 of them can be found all over the country. Some of them are original, scaled-down Bartholdi creations, some use the original Bartholdi mold whereas the others are just some fun and cheap copies with variations.
Here are some notable ones.
The small town of Gourin in the heart of Brittany has a replica of the statue that was donated to the city by an Air France office as a thank you for traveling across the ocean to the US in their planes. A patinated bronze statue replaced the resin version in 2020. Even today, it remains a symbol of French immigration to the USA.
Mr. Misadventures and I didn’t have a hard time finding this one, but we had a hard time getting to it! You can see in the photo above that it is in a small square between to sides of the main road that runs through Gourin right where city hall is. We kept crossing the road at lunchtime (so busy we people running into bakeries and restaurants) trying to find the best angle to take Lady Liberty’s photo!
She is well worth the detail if you are in the Morbihan department of Brittany in north-western France not too far from Quimper.
Perhaps the most well-known is the one in Colmar, the birthplace of Bartholdi. The Bartholdi Museum houses the original model for the Statue of Liberty, though smaller in size but impressive in its own right. The museum also contains a preparatory model (full-size plaster model) of an ear.
The city of Colmar also has a 12m resin replica of the statue installed in the northern entrance to the town to celebrate the 100th death anniversary of Bartholdi.
The town of Bordeaux has another replica donated by Bartholdi himself in 1888. The original statue was made of bronze and was melted and reused in 1943 by the Germans. A smaller copy was installed in its place in Place Picard in 2000 and was later dedicated to the memory of the victims of the 09/11 attacks.
She is at the top breaking her chains.
This statue was also targeted by Anti-American protesters when they set it on fire and dumped paint on its head. In 2012 it was removed for renovations and returned refurbished.
Blérancourt has a terracotta version of the replica. It was installed a year before the New York statue was inaugurated, and was supposedly created by Bartholdi himself. The inscription on it reads, “Souvenir à Mr le comte de Saune qui a transporté en Amérique au nom de la France la Statue colossale de la Liberté. 1885″ (“In remembrance to the Count of Saune who transported the colossal Statue of Liberty to America in the name of France. 1885”).
Other Statue of Liberty Statues in France
- Lyon: Lyon also has a miniature terracotta version that can be found in the Musée des Beaux-Arts.
- Barentin: The statue in Barentin (near Rouen) was originally made for a French comedy film but now stands in the center of a roundabout.
- Cambrin: The one in Cambrin was erected in 1926 and dedicated to the death of 26 children of the town who died during the war.
- Chateauneuf La Forêt: In Chateauneuf La Forêt, the statue was made from the cast signed by Bartholdi himself. Cléguérec’s statue, which was cast in 1875, predates the New York statue, and could very well be the original cast from Bartholdi’s mold.
- And a few other towns where you can find a genuine replica of the statue – Chaumont Air Base of Chaumont-Semoutiers, Lunel, Nice, Roybon, Poitiers, St Cyr Sur Mer.
The Statue of Liberty is the ultimate symbol of friendship between the United States and France. The relationship hasn’t always been chaleureux (does anyone remember “Freedom Fries”?) but The French-American alliance is our oldest and continues to be one I celebrate every day in my life. When I see a Statue of Liberty when I am out and about in Paris it always reminds me of that special bond.
How about you? Have you seen the Statue of Liberty in Paris? How about in other parts of France? Do tell!
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