The Seine Archipelago

The Seine Archipelago in Paris consists of five floating islands which were moored in 2013 at the downstream end of Les Berges, in the section called Port du Gros Caillou between the Alma and Invalides Bridges.

The five islands are linked by bridges to each other and to the river bank. They are called L’île centrale (Central Island), l’île prairie (Meadow Island), l’île aux oiseaux (Bird Island), l’île verger (Orchard Island) and l’île aux brumes (Mist Island). They were conceived by Jean-Christophe Choblet, an urban designer at the Paris Urbanism Agency Apur (= Atelier parisien d’urbanisme).

According the Apur website, each island offers a specific range of plant life, such as decorative apple trees on L’île verger, shrubs and grasses to attract birds on l’île aux oiseaux and tall grasses on l’île prairie.  These are all plants that are native to the Seine Valley.

Bridge from the islands to the shore

All five islands are open to the public, free of charge, starting at ten in the morning. The closing time varies according to the time of year, from 17:00 in the winter to 18:30 in the autumn to 20:00 in the summer.

The horizontal metal pipes that look like chimneys allow the islands to rise or fall with the water level, especially during times of flooding.

Pont des Invalides from the Isle of Mists (L’île aux brumes)

The first bridge upstream is the Pont des Invalides, with four masonry arches. But the four pillars, each with a gilded sculpture at the top, belong to the next bridge, the Pont Alexandre III.

A Batobus going past the islands

Somehow I have never tried the Batobus, so far, but it’s on my list for some future visit. These boat-buses travel around in a circle, stopping at five places on the left bank, namely the Eiffel Tower, the Orsay Museum, Saint-Germain-des-Près, Notre Dame and the Jardin des Plantes. Then they turn around and go back downstream along the right bank, stopping at Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), the Louvre and the Champs-Elysées. Actually the stop called Champs-Elysées is by the bridge Alexandre III, which is just a short ways upstream from the Archipelago.

Looking upstream from one island to the next

At some time since my last visit, a large sculpture by Niki de Saint-Phalle was installed on the river bank by the islands, so the official name of this location is now Jardins de l’Archipel des Berges de Seine Niki-de-Saint-Phalle, meaning “Gardens of the Seine River Archipelago Niki-de-Saint-Phalle”.

This stretch of the left bank, which used to be an expressway for automobiles, was redesigned and opened to the public in 2013 as Les Berges (= the river banks). In 2017, a section of the right bank (further upstream) was also transformed from an expressway to a park. The two stretches together are now called the Parc Rives de Seine (Park Banks of the Seine), with a total length of seven kilometers.

Aviary on the Isle of the Birds (l’île aux oiseaux)

My photos in this post are from 2013. I revised the text in 2020.

See also:
Re-claiming the river banks
Saving the right bank, step by step
Paris Beaches

4 thoughts on “The Seine Archipelago”

    1. Me too. I think I have some photos of her work (and of her husband Jean Tinguely) that I haven’t posted yet, from Basel, Oldenburg, Hannover and Paris.

  1. This is fascinating. We’ve walked past on the other side (Right Bank) and never seen it. We were so taken in the last time with Cathédrale de la Sainte-Trinité, the new Russian Orthodox cathedral on the Left Bank opposite that we really didn’t notice anything else. It was so striking we couldn’t believe we hadn’t seen it before and then discovered it had only been completed in 2016. We’ll have to find your islands in the Seine. Sounds like a title for a novel . . . 😉

  2. Something for us to hunt out if we are able to go ahead with our planned September visit to Paris. The Batobus sounds good too – we’ve never been on that either

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