The literal translation of Ile aux Cygnes is Island of the Swans.
I’m not sure I saw any swans on this adventure, but I did discover what I came to find: a replica of the Statue of Liberty.
I’ve had this excursion on my bucket since the late 70s, when I visited the city with fifteen other high school students. I remember it was close to dusk and the tour bus was flying down the highway. Those lucky enough to sit on the right side of the bus caught a glimpse of Lady Liberty with the Eiffel Tower behind her. I was sitting on the left side.
While I understand the Bateaux Mouches circles around this island, and perhaps provides the coveted photo opportunity, I wanted to walk there myself.
I started at the Eiffel Tower and traversed along the Seine. It was a leisurely stroll for most of the twenty minute trek. I had to cross one major street, which if you know Parisian drivers, is a death-defying act, but once I reached the island itself, the atmosphere was calm and peaceful.
It was a warm July day, but the walk reminded me of fall. There was a cool breeze, and colorful leaves lined the walkway. It was lunchtime, and several local business men and women escaped the corporate world for a while to sit on one of the park benches and enjoy a sandwich at the water’s edge.
The walk took longer than I expected, and just when I wondered if I mistook one bridge for another… I saw her figure in the distance. She was every bit as beautiful as her American counterpart.
There was only one other family visiting when I arrived. I took a group photo, and then they were on their way. Only she and I remained.
This sweet lady faces towards her sister, some 3,600 miles away. And from what I understand, our beacon of freedom, welcoming the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free – is looking towards Paris and her beloved sibling.
While I did not capture the money-shot: the statue of liberty with the Eiffel Tower in the background, I wouldn’t trade this personal experience for anything.