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FRENCH HISTORY

Where to find France’s 12 Statues of Liberty

Most people think of New York when they think of the Statue of Liberty, but in fact there are representations of the famous torch-bearer all over France too. Here's where to find them.

The Statue of Liberty stands tall above New York.
The Statue of Liberty stands tall above New York. France has many replicas of its own. (Photo by BRUCE BENNETT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The Statue of Liberty, towering 93 metres tall on New York’s Liberty Island, is a global icon. 

It shows the figure of Libertas, a Roman goddess, holding a torch in her right hand and the US Declaration of independence in the other. Shackles and chains lay broken at her feet. For centuries, the statue was seen as a symbol of freedom for immigrants crossing the Atlantic in search of the American dream. 

READ MORE Eleven things the French have given America

The statue itself was gifted to the United States by France in the 1880s as a way to commemorate the alliance between the two countries that stretched back to the American Revolution against the British – during this conflict, France sent more soldiers than the Americans and the British combined. 

It was the brainchild of a French political thinker and anti-slavery activist, Édouard de Laboulaye, who thought that the United States deserved a gift after abolishing slavery. He believed that America should serve as a beacon of liberty to the rest of the world – France at the time was ruled with an iron-fist under Napoleon III. 

The statue itself was designed by a French sculptor called Frédéric August Bartholdi, while the engineering was handled by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel tower fame). Pieces of the statue were constructed in Paris and shipped to New York and before being assembled.

READ MORE Campaign launched to fund new Statue of Liberty in Brittany

Considering the French concept and craftsmanship behind the celebrated design, it is perhaps no surprise that replicas of the famous statue soon began springing up all over France.

France has at least 12 copies of the Statue of Liberty – or La Liberté éclairant le monde (Liberty illuminating the world) in French. 

Here is where you will find them: 

Paris 

The most famous replica of the Statue of Liberty sits on the Île aux Cygnes on the Seine river in the city centre. This version was actually a gift from the United States to France in 1889, to celebrate 100 years since the French Revolution. The tablet carried by Lady Liberty is different to the New York statue and carries the dates of the US Declaration of Independence and the date of the storming of the Bastille – 14th July 1789. 

This statue was originally faced East, giving the lady a nice view of the Eiffel Tower – in 1937 however, she was turned towards the west to face her older sister in New York. 

 
A replica of the Statue of Liberty stands on Paris' Ile de Cygnes during sunset

A replica of the Statue of Liberty stands on Paris’ Île aux Cygnes during sunset (Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP)

Because the statue on the Île aux Cygnes is easily accessible via the Grenelle bridge in the 15th arrondissement, it is regularly used by people trying to make a striking visual protest.

Amnesty International activists protest the continued operation of Guantanamo bay, behind the Statue of Liberty on the Île aux Cygnes (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Bartholdi himself also built a 1/16 scale replica of the Statue of Liberty for the Exposition Universelle of 1900. This model now stands proud in the entrance hall to the Musée d’Orsay – a bronze replica of this model can also be found in the Jardin du Luxembourg. 

The Statue of Liberty is pictured during a ceremony at the Quai d’Orsay museum in Paris. (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON / AFP)

There is also a life size copy of the Statue of Liberty torch – known as the Flame of Liberty – on the entrance to the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. It was gifted to France by the United States. The flame has since become a memorial to Princess Diana, who died in the tunnel following a car crash in 1997. 

The Liberty Torch in Paris now serves as an unofficial memorial to Princesse Diana.

The Liberty Torch in Paris now serves as an unofficial memorial to Princesse Diana. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)
 

Outside Paris

Bordeaux

Bordeaux’s Place Picard has had a turbulent history when it comes to the statue. In 1888, Bartholdi himself donated a replica to the city, which was mounted in this square. This version was seized and melted down by the Nazis during WWII. It was eventually replaced in 2000 and a plaque was later added to commemorate victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Since being mounted, this new statue has been repeatedly vandalised – and local legend has it that a prankster once organised a spate of stunts, arriving in the dead of night to dress it in a burqa, a Guantanamo prisoner’s outfit and in a housekeeper’s uniform. 

Nice

The Statue of Liberty in Nice is not much more than one metre tall. It was one of the first models of the statue ever made by Bartholdi, who began building small and progressively got bigger and bigger until the New York version was made. You can find it on the Quai des Etats-Unis on the seafront.

Barentin

You can find a 13.5 metre replica of the statue in the northern French town of Barentin, near Rouen. It was built as a prop for a film called Le Cerveau (The Brain), which starred the late actor Jean-Paul Belmondo. It is made out of polyester and resin and sits outside a McDonald’s. 

France gave America the Statue of Liberty - America gave France McDonalds.

France gave America the Statue of Liberty – America gave France McDonald’s. The two symbols come together in the northern French town of Barentin. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

READ MORE Jean-Paul Belmondo, icon of French New Wave cinema, dies at 88

Colmar

A 12 metre version of the statue stands in Colmar, eastern France, which is the city where Bartholdi was born. This replica was dedicated in 2004, to mark the centenary of the sculptor’s death. 

The Statue of Liberty in Colmar was given a new outfit by yellow vest protestors back in 2019. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)
 
Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer

A gold-covered iron replica of the statue can also be found in the French town of Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, in the southern Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

It stands at 2.5 metres tall – just a little over the size of one of the index fingers of the original statue. 

Poitiers

Another model of the statue can be found in the south west town of Poitiers. It was built in 1903 as a memorial to Jean-Baptiste Breton – a French general who was guillotined for plotting against Louis XVIII (a French king restored after the revolution). 

Lunel

The original replica that once stood in the small town of Lunel, in south east of France, was melted down for weapons during WWII. A new version was inaugurated in 1989 to mark two centuries since the passing of the French revolution. 

Chaumont

A miniature replica can also be found at the Chaumont military base – this served as a  home to the US air force during the Cold War. Today, it is occupied by a French artillery regiment but the mini Statue of Liberty remains.

Roybon

An original replica made by Bartholdi himself is also displayed in the town of Roybon, near Grenoble. Local authorities are currently fundraising to renovate the now rather weather-beaten art work. 

The Statue of Liberty in Roybon is crying out for some maintenance work.

The Statue of Liberty in Roybon is crying out for some maintenance work. (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP)

Châteauneuf-la-Forêt

Another Statue of Liberty can be found in the village of Châteauneuf-la-Forêt, near the city of Limoges. It rests atop a plinth inscribed with the names of village residents who lost their life fighting in the two world wars. 

International locations 

There are other Statue of Liberty replicas in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, the United States and Vietnam. 

Have you seen other representations of Lady Liberty in France? Share your sightings in the comments below.

Member comments

  1. Hey, you missed one in Lugné, part of the commune of Cessenon-sur-Orb about 30km north west of Béziers. It’s about 2.5m tall.

  2. There was also one in the Musée des Arts et Métiers when I visited a few months ago. A second one at that museum used to be out in the courtyard, but I believe that’s the one that was given to the US recently…

  3. There’s one in Ourville-en-Caux, too – from French Wikipedia:
    Réplique bleutée de la statue de la Liberté.
    Elle est érigée sur un giratoire de la commune, au carrefour des routes de Fauville-en-Caux, du Grand Bosc et du chemin du Petit Bosc.

  4. The U.S. Statues of Liberty is a gift from the people of France, not the French government. The statue honors, “the Alliance of the Two Nations in achieving the Independence of the United States of America and attests their abiding friendship.”

    Liberty Island and the pedestal were funded by large numbers of small donations, from The American People, not the U.S. govt.

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READER INSIGHTS

Readers reveal: The best beaches and coastal resorts in France

The Local asked readers for their top tips for places to visit along the French coast and we were overwhelmed with suggestions for beautiful beaches, off-the-beaten-track villages and lively resorts.

Readers reveal: The best beaches and coastal resorts in France

The Local has been seeking out France’s best coastline in recent weeks, after a disagreement on an episode of our Talking France podcast where Editor Emma Pearson defended La Vendée as home to the best (and most underrated) coastline in the country, while journalist Genevieve Mansfield fought for Brittany. 

To settle the debate, The Local asked its readers to share their favourite place to go on France’s shores, and the results are in, along with exclusive recommendations:

Brittany wins

Almost half (48 percent) of those who responded to The Local’s survey about the best part of France’s coastline voted for Brittany. 

Where to go

Several people recommended the Morbihan département.

Angela Moore, said her favourite part of this area was the islet between Vannes and Lorient, which is home to romanesque chapel and the Etel river oyster, a delicacy in the area. 

Others chose the Morbihan for its “lovely little coves, wonderful beaches and seafood,” as well as for boat rides in the gulf. Meanwhile, some pointed out Carnac, as a spot to visit, as the town is known for its prehistoric standing stones.

Some preferred travelling further north in Brittany, and they recommended the Finistère départment.

Rebecca Brite, who lives in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, said she loves this part of France for the overall atmosphere. Her top recommendation was to “Go all the way to the Baie des Trépassés and stay at the old, traditional hotel-restaurant of the same name. Pretend you’re in the legendary kingdom of Ys, swallowed up by the sea on this very site.”

The other part of Brittany that came highly recommended was the Emerald Coast (Côtes d’Armor) – specifically the Côte de Granit Rose.

The Mediterranean coastline

The Mediterranean remained a very popular vacation spot for readers of The Local, with almost a third of respondents claiming it as their favourite part of the French coastline. From sailing to cliffs and architecture, the Mediterranean had a bit of everything according to The Local’s readers.

Cassis and the Calanques were among of the most popular responses for where to go and what to see in this part of France.

One respondent, Gini Kramer, said she loves this part of France because “There’s nothing like climbing pure white limestone cliffs rising right out of the sea. The hiking is spectacular too.”

Some counselled more lively parts of the riviera, like the old port in Marseille, while others suggested the quieter locations.

David Sheriton said he likes to go to the beaches of Narbonne: “It’s a gentle slope into the sea so great for the (grand)children.” He said that the area does have a “few bars and restaurants” but that it does not “attract the party crowds.” 

In terms of beautiful villages, Èze came recommended for being home to “the most breathtaking views of the French coastline,” according to reader Gregg Kasner.

Toward Montpellier, Dr Lindsay Burstall said that La Grande Motte was worth visiting, for its “coherent 60’s architecture.” Burstall proposed having “a chilled pression au bord de la mer while watching the world go by…”

Meanwhile, three readers listed locations near Perpignan, and all encouraged visiting the area’s “pre-historic sites.”

Sally Bostley responded that her favourite spots were “between Canet-Plage and Saint-Cyprien-Plage” and she advised visiting “Collioure, Banyuls with the aquarium, Perpignan, nearby prehistoric sites, Safari Park, Prehistory Park.”

Other parts of the coastline

Though these locations may have received less votes overall, they still stood out in the minds of The Local readers:

Normandy did not receive as many votes as its neighbour Brittany, but it is still home to unique attractions worth visiting. The WWII landing beaches “plages de débarquement” came highly recommended, along with cathedrals and abbeys in the region, like Coutances in the northern Manche département.

Reed Porter, who lives in Annecy, likes to go to Êtretat when he visits Normandy. He had several recommendations, starting with “les falaises!” These are the dramatic cliffs overlooking the ocean.

Porter also suggested visitors of Êtretat head to “the glass stone beach” and the “old town” for its architecture. If you get hungry, there are “oysters everywhere all the time.”

Basque country was also highlighted for its proximity to the Pyrenées mountains. Maggie Parkinson said this was the best part of France’s coastline for her because of “The long views to the Pyrénées, the pine forests, the soft, fresh quality of the air, the many moods and colours of the sea – gently lapping aquamarine waves to thunderous, crashing black rollers churning foam onto the shore.”

A huge fan of the area, Parkinson had several recommendations ranging from cuisine to “cycling the many paths through the tranquil pines, visiting Bayonne, the Basque Country and the Pyrénées or northern Spain (for wonderful pintxos).”

She said that she loves to “[chill] on the endless, wide sandy beaches or [rest] on a hammock in the park” or “[catch] a local choir sporting blue or red foulards singing their hearts out to traditional or rock tunes.”

Similar reasons were listed in favour of Corsica as France’s best coastline, as it is also home to tall mountains with beautiful views over the water.

If you are looking to visit Corsica, Paul Griffiths recommends “having a good road map” and then “just [driving] quietly along the coast and over the mountains.” He said that this is “all easily doable in a day” and along the way you can “find beautiful beaches, lovely towns with good restaurants – especially Maccinaggion and Centuri – to enjoy one day after another.”

Finally, the preferred coastline location for The Local’s France Editor, Emma Pearson, also got some support by readers, with one calling La Vendée an “unpretentious” and “accessible” place for a vacation.

Respondent Anthony Scott said that “Les Sables d’Olonne and Luçon both epitomise the spirit of Vendée.” He enjoys the “inland serenity and historic sites, beautiful beaches and inviting seashores” as well as “traditional appetising meals.” He also noted that the area is “not too expensive.”

READ ALSO Brittany v Vendée – which is the best French coastline?

Many thanks to everyone who answered our survey, we couldn’t include all your recommendations, but feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below.

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