Île des Cygnes (former island)

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"Isle Maquerelle ou des Cignes", linked to the rive gauche by the "pont rouge" - Roussel's map of Paris, 1731

The île des Cygnes or île Maquerelle was an island on the river Seine in Paris. It was in the north-west part of the 7th arrondissement, between rue de l'Université and the Seine, the Invalides and the Champ de Mars. The Musée du quai Branly is located on it.

It was formed by the merger of the islets known as île des Treilles, île aux Vaches, île Maquerelle, île de Jérusalem and île de Longchamp, and was merged into the rive gauche of the Seine at the end of the 18th century.


An oak pirogue, built with fir plugs, discovered in August 1806 during the construction of the footings for Pont d'Iéna, was thought to be a Norman boat dating to the Siege of Paris in 885/86, although some scholars believe that it may have dated to the Sequani tribe from the first century B.C.[1][2]

In the 13th century the peasants of Chaillot on the opposite bank had the right to graze their cattle on the île Maquerelle, in exchange for a payment in kind paid to the Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés.[3][4] The right to fermage was 20 livres in 1492, and the bail de l'herbe rose to 27 livres in 1551.[5] In 1572 1,200 victims of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre were buried here.[6][7] The island was renamed Île des Cygnes after the swans placed there by a royal decree of 16 October 1676.[8] The garde-cygnes were in charge of looking after them "from pont de Saint-Cloud as far as Saint-Maur and Corbeil" during the winter.[9] The garde-cygnes's house was inventoried among the royal building accounts.[10] The island was also the site of the ministry of public works's dépôt des marbres.

The king finally ceded the island to the city of Paris on 21 March 1722.[11] Around 1731[12] it was the site of a lodge where wood was cut into logs and stored for firewood, carpentry or boat repairs[13] · .[14] At this time the island was linked to the rive gauche on its eastern extremity by the "pont des Cignes"[15] or "pont rouge". Jean-Jacques Rousseau promenaded on the island[16] Letters patent allowing the City of Paris to fill in the channel separating île des Cygnes from the Gros-Caillou quarter were signed on 20 June 1773,[11] and a partial filling-in of the channel is reported in 1780.[17] In 1782 the island was the site of a lamp-oil factory[18] On 11 April 1786 a police decree ordered that "all offal of bulls, cows and sheep continue to be brought to the île des Cygnes to be prepared and cooked there as is the custom".[19] In 1789, the brothers Jacques and Augustin Charles Périer were commissioned by the city of Paris to set up steam mills on the island to meet the flour shortage due to the Seine's winter water levels being too low to power its watermills. Their installation was made up of two steam engines with twelve driving wheels, each 1.95m in diameter. It opened on 30 November 1790 in the presence of the mayor.[20] In 1802-1803 the American inventor Robert Fulton conducted his experiments on steam navigation from the island.[21] In 1812, during the construction of the pont d'Iéna, the rest of the channel was filled in.[22]


  1. ^ Société préhistorique française Compte rendu, année 1905, p.455 Schleicher frères, 1906
  2. ^ Édouard Fournier, , Histoire du Pont Neuf, p.36
  3. ^ Paris à travers les âges, histoire nationale de Paris et des Parisiens depuis la fondation de Lutèce jusqu'à nos jours, 1879
  4. ^ Legrand, Jean-Baptiste-Bonaventure de Roquefort Histoire de la vie privée des François p.94
  5. ^ Pierre Thomas N. Hurtaut, Magny Dictionnaire historique de la ville de Paris et de ses environs, p.368, 1779
  6. ^ Bulletin de la Société de l'histoire du protestantisme français - Page 134, 1861
  7. ^ Athanase Coquerel Précis de l'histoire de l'Église réformée de Paris p.126, 1862
  8. ^ Edouard Fournier, Énigmes des rues de Paris, p. 278
  9. ^ Dominique Garrigues,Jardins et jardiniers de Versailles au Grand Siècle, p.134, 2001
  10. ^ Jules Guiffrey, Comptes des bâtiments du roi sous le règne de Louis XIV - Page 1130 1901
  11. ^ a b Lucien Lazard Inventaire sommaire de la collection Lazare-Montassier pp.87-88, Imprimerie Nouvelle (association ouvrière) 1899
  12. ^ See Roussel's plan of Paris
  13. ^ Déchireurs et Hotteurs
  14. ^ Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860, p.683
  15. ^ Pierre Thomas N. Hurtaut, Magny, Dictionnaire historique de la ville de Paris et de ses monuments, p.99, 1779
  16. ^ Ninth promenade, Rêveries du promeneur solitaire in Oeuvres complètes, tome 6 p.522, Ch Lahure 1857
  17. ^ Mémoires de la Société nationale des antiquaires de France 1864, p.106
  18. ^ Tableau de Paris, by Louis-Sébastien Mercier, 1782
  19. ^ De France, Jourdan, Decrusy, Recueil général des anciennes lois françaises, depuis l'an 420 jusqu'à la révolution française p.165, Belin-Le Prieur 1827
  20. ^ Jean Paul Favreau Les moulins de l'île aux Cygnes, 14 novembre 2006
  21. ^ Louis Figuier , Exposition et histoire des principales découvertes scientifiques modernes, pp. 284-285 , 1862
  22. ^ Léon de Lanzac de Laborie, Paris sous Napoléon, tome 2, p.119, Plon, 1905

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Coordinates: 48°51′42″N 2°17′46″E / 48.861666°N 2.296035°E / 48.861666; 2.296035