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Dog jaunt: Stroll up Paris’s Île aux Cygnes

This was the last long walk we took before we left Paris last fall, and it was a perfect way to say good-bye to the city. The Île aux Cygnes (“Isle of the Swans” — nope, we didn’t see a single one) is a long, thin island in the Seine. Just southwest of the Eiffel Tower, it’s a little bit off the beaten path, but not so much so that it’s tough to get to. It was created in the early 19th c. as a breakwater, to protect what was then the port of Grenelle (now absorbed into Paris and part of the 15th arrondissement). Sixty-two years later, the American community in Paris commemorated the centennial of the French Revolution with a 1/4-size replica of the Statue of Liberty, which was installed on the southwest tip of the island (at 22 metres, or 72 feet, tall, it’s still pretty imposing).

Paris's biggest Statue of Liberty replica (there are two others in town, plus a full-size replica of the torch), from the Pont de Grenelle.

Paris’s biggest Statue of Liberty replica (there are two others in town, plus a full-size replica of the flame), from the Pont de Grenelle.

Between the Statuette of Liberty at one end, and the Pont de Bir-Hakeim at the other, there’s a single path, perfect for promenades, flanked with trees and benches.

I recommend starting on the Pont de Grenelle. If you, like us, take the #72 bus along the Right Bank to get there, listen carefully for the “Radio France-Pont de Grenelle” stop (confusingly, one stop west of the “Radio France” stop). You will find yourself standing where the Rue de Boulainvilliers meets the Avenue du Président Kennedy. Cross the street to the river and get yourself onto the left side of the bridge. Descend the ramp and walk under the bridge to reach Madame Liberté. Please note that she’s facing her American sister, 3,500 miles away — and savor the fact that you can get close enough to touch her pedestal (pet dogs, as you may already know, cannot visit Lady Liberty).

Turn back around and stroll northeast, the length of the island. The views are wonderful, as you can see, and the folks you meet are all in strolling mode — relaxed, prepared to admire your dog, and often accompanied by dogs themselves.

Chloe and me, just below the statue, looking southeast across the river

Chloe and me, just below the statue — beyond us is the Left Bank, and the waterfront part of the the quartier of Grenelle

We've crossed back under the Pont de Grenelle, and now we're walking north — the views of the Eiffel Tower just get better and better

We’ve crossed back under the Pont de Grenelle, and now we’re walking north — the views of the Eiffel Tower just get better and better

When you reach the north end of the island, you’ll find yourself facing a set of stairs — climb them, carefully cross the street (and bridge), and you’ll find yourself on the actual northern tip of the island, which has an unimpeded view of the Eiffel Tower. Claim yourself a bit of parapet, and enjoy the moment.

The stairs at the northeast end of the island, leading up to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim

The stairs at the northeast end of the island, leading up to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim

Pass under that arch, carefully crossing the bridge, and you'll find this little plaza before you (the statue is called "La France renaissante")

Pass under the arch in that last photo, carefully crossing the bridge, and you’ll find this little plaza before you (the statue is called “La France renaissante”)

I wish I could tell you that we'd planned to arrive at this point on our walk just as the tower lights went on, but it was purely a matter of luck. By the time we walked away, it was dusk, and the city lights were spangling the river.

I wish I could tell you that we’d timed our walk to see the tower at its best, but it was purely a matter of luck. We stayed at our bit of parapet until dusk turned into evening, and the city lights were spangling the river.

When you’re ready to leave, return to the right bank. Cross over to the center of the bridge as you get to its north end, and descend the staircase before you; you’ll find yourself right at the “Pont de Bir-Hakeim” stop for the #72 bus, now heading back to the Place de la Concorde (and beyond, to the Louvre and Châtelet).

You may remember the Pont de Bir-Hakeim from Inception, and before that from Last Tango in Paris

Heading north on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim. You may remember this gorgeous bridge from the movie “Inception,” and before that from “Last Tango in Paris.”

We walked down the middle of the bridge, on those two lanes you see in the middle of the picture, but it’s really for bicyclists. Thank goodness none came along while we were hogging their path — next time, we’ll know to walk alongside the bridge railings instead.

5 comments

  • Gail Brown

    Can’t wait to take this walk with Puccini in October; thanks for the detailed description!

  • Natalie

    I am so happy I found your great blog as I am moving to Bangkok with my two Brussels Griffons in July. I have a question nobody has been able to answer for me: one of my pups will only be 12 weeks old when I have to travel, and not old enough for her rabies vaccine. Does anyone know how that will play out when I go through customs? Do they know that puppies don’t get that shot until at least 16 weeks? I’m really nervous about it. Hoping someone here might know the answer. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

  • Hello, Natalie! I don’t know the answer to that one myself, but I’ve sent an e-mail to Thailand’s Bureau of Disease Control and Veterinary Services, asking for their advice. I got their address from this link: http://www.thaiembassyuk.org.uk/?q=node/134 That’s from the U.K.’s Thai embassy page — our U.S. embassy page doesn’t seem to be as helpful, but it does include the embassy’s phone number, which you might call: (202) 944-3600 Normally, I turn to the USDA/APHIS site for this kind of info, but this is one of those unhappy (and rare) instances where the site doesn’t help. I would consider calling your local USDA office, however, even if you get through to the Thai embassy — they might have info that hasn’t yet made it to the USDA site. Here’s how to find your local USDA/APHIS office: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/downloads/nies_service_centers_export_contact_information.pdf I’ll also post your comment on Dog Jaunt’s Facebook page, in case another reader has done this recently. Let me know what you find out, and I’ll let you know here if/when I hear back from Thailand.

  • Natalie

    Thank you so much for your response. I spoke to UK Embassy a couple days, and they didn’t know. They referred me to Google! I have sent no fewer than 16 emails to every branch of the Thai DLD, and no response from them. The USDA simply sent me the link to the Thai DLD website for reference when I (and my vet) spoke with them, so that was no help. I also sent emails to every Thai consulate in the US. One Thai representative in the Houston consulate’s office told me that as long as the USDA stated on the health certificate that the puppy was too young for the vaccine, then it would be fine. But she did concede that though most countries accept the USDA certificate with that explanation, the DLD website doesn’t specify that they accept it. Here’s hoping I get some answers fast! Thanks again for our help. I will check out the links you provided.

  • Natalie, I just thought of something else you might try (since it really sounds like you have tried everything!) — give the folks at PetRelocation.com a call or e-mail. I know you’re doing your own travel arrangements, but they’ve been very helpful answering questions of mine in the past, and from their point of view, you’re a potential customer — maybe not on this trip, but there’s always the future. I bet they’d know the answer to this one, and would be willing to share it with you.

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