Islands in the Seine

Islands in the Seine
There are two large islands in the center of Paris that are familiar to travelers and map-hounds, the culturally important Île de la Cité, and the residential utopia of Île Saint-Louis. However, there are many other islands in the Seine with interesting stories. Over the years, many tiny islands have grown together to form larger islands in the stream. Here are a few as the river wends to the north. L’Île aux Cygnes  This very narrow island is just 11m wide, and given its shape, obviously manmade. The Île aux Cygnes was created in 1827 as a reinforcement for new bridges crossing the Seine. A previous Île des Cygnes has long since been subsumed by the banks of the river. Named for the swans (cygnes) that Louis XIV imported from Denmark to populate the island, l’Île aux Cygnes is today home to many species of birds.   Over 60 species of trees line the promenade, where visitors sedately stroll or rigorously exercise. L’Île aux Cygnes provides a different view of Paris as the Seine flows beyond the Eiffel Tower. At the island’s western edge stands a 1/4 scale replica of the Statue of Liberty. In the 1930s, architect Andre Lurçat conceived a plan to turn the island into Aeroparis, a runway for small planes. The plan didn’t get off the ground.    View of the Île aux Cygnes from the Eiffel Tower. Photo credit: Adrian Pingstone/ Wikimedia Commons Île Saint-Germain Just 50 minutes from the center of Paris, the quirky island of Île Saint-Germain has been a place for leisurely promenades since the beginning of the 1800s. A 2km strip of land between Issy-les-Moulineaux and Boulogne-Billancourt, the Île Saint-Germain is now half-residential and half carefully-curated parkland, where landscaped paths lead to themed gardens. There are summer fields of lavender with their adherent bees, plus ponds with frogs, newts and ducks. Strangely, in addition to the plentiful waterfowl, is the small diaspora of escaped parakeets.   All the trees were planted in the 1980s with the exception of the small orchard which recalls the island’s history as the once medieval property of the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. At the end of the naturalized area, stands the Tower of Figures, a monumental sculpture by Jean Dubuffet and classified as a historic monument.   Once the only people on the Île Saint-Germain were the allotment gardeners. Now the residential side is comprised of more than 3,200 inhabitants. The town is a little bit fishing village and a lot Jacques Tati’s view of the modern in Mon Oncle. It could be regarded as an incubator for architects. Jean Nouvel’s design, La Vaisseau, and many of his original creations are here as well as homes designed by Philippe Starck.    Frog pond on the ile Saint-Germain, with the ‘Tour aux figures’ in the background. Photo credit: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons

Lead photo credit : Temple de l'Amour on the l'Ile de la Jatte. Photo credit: Moonik/ Wikimedia Commons

More in Île de la Jatte, Île de Puteaux, Île Saint-Denis, Île Saint-Germain, Île Seguin, Islands, L’Île aux Cygnes, Seine

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A freelance writer and amateur historian, Hazel knew she wanted to focus on the lives of French artists and femme fatales after an epiphany at the Musée d'Orsay. A life-long learner, she is a recent graduate of Art History from the University of Toronto. Now she is searching for a real-life art history mystery to solve.