Flamme de la Liberte monument in Paris
The Flamme de la Liberte, which basically translates to Liberty Flame, is just one of the many monuments in Paris, but it has became most well known as a stele or commemorative monument as a tribute to Princess Diana after her death in the car accident in Paris.
About the Liberty Flame
The Flamme de la Liberte is an exact full size replica of the flame of Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty that is in place at the harbour entrance to the city of New York in America, and this replica is made out of gilded copper and sits on a grey and black marble plinth on the very bridge were Princess Diana‘s car accident happened.
And this particular monument in Paris was given to the French by the Daily International Herald Tribune in 1987, when they were celebrating their centenary of producing an English newspaper in Paris.
However, there are also other meaningful reasons for this gesture, which include thanks to the French for their support in the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, which in fact was originally a gift from France in the first place!
In addition to these, the Liberty Flame was gifted to Paris during the American bicentenary and was to show the symbol of friendship between the American people and the French and there is a commemorative plaque on the base that reads..
"The Flame of Liberty. An exact replica of the Statue of Liberty's flame offered to the people of France by donors throughout the world as a symbol of the Franco-American friendship. On the occasion of the centennial of the International Herald Tribune. Paris 1887 - 1987."
But there were many discussions as to where this monument in Paris should be positioned, and after much deliberation, the open area between the Avenue de New-York and the Place de l’Alma was chosen for the Liberty Flame and it was dedicated by Jacques Chirac, who was the Mayor of Paris at that time and later became the French President.
But the focus of the monument changed
Virtually everyone will have heard about when Princess Diana died after a car crash, and many of you will also know that this happened in Paris on 31st August 1997, and in fact it was after Diana, Princess of Wales left the Ritz Hotel in Paris with Dodi Fayed to go to another residence in Paris. They crossed the Place de la Concorde and went along the road parallel to the River Seine, then entered the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, but unfortunately this was where the accident happened and they met their untimely deaths.
After the announcement of her death, many admirers of Diana, the Princess of Wales, travelled from all over the UK to Kensington Palace to pay their respects, but the Flamme de la Liberte also got transformed into a stele, or commemorative monument for Diana.
The Liberty Flame ended up attracting hundreds of tourists every day with her followers leaving bouquets of flowers, wreaths, poems, letters and more. However, there were also some over enthusiastic admirers of Princess Diana who engraved notes onto the plinth, or actually stuck letters and poems onto this monument in Paris, which unfortunately led to its deterioration over the years.
Because the Flame of Liberty became the unofficial commemorative monument for Diana, Princess of Wales due to its proximity on top of the bridge where the tragic accident happened, many people believe that this was put in place for her, even though this was not the case.
And so, a new Flame of Liberty was produced and sculptured by Jean Cardot, in order to recognise the relationship between France and the United States of America and it has two different inscriptions, with one being from France and the other being from the US.
This new Flamme de la Liberte was positioned within the gardens of the US Embassy by the Place de la Concorde and unveiled in the June of 2008, where it was dedicated in the presence of the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy and the US President George W. Bush.
But the original Flamme de la Liberte is still by the Pont de l’Alma in the 8 Arrondissement of Paris and is still the unofficial monument for Princess Diana.
It has also recently had some major renovation work done as to preserve the monument for future admirers. And in fact, even when there was boarding surrounding the Liberty Flame during the renovations, you could still get to see bouquets, wreaths, photographs etc that were left by people paying their respects to this much loved Royal figure.
So today, there is now a symbolic chain that encircles the site in order to protect this commemorative monument from any further over enthusiastic admirers of Diana, Princess of Wales, yet more than 20 years later, the Liberty Flame is still visited by thousands of tourists every year whilst they are on holiday in Paris.
Visiting the Flamme de la Liberte
The Liberty Flame is located in between the Avenue de New York and the River Seine by the Pont de l’Alma in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris, which is very close to the entrance to the tunnel where Princess Diana died in 1997.
You will find that the nearest Metro station is called the Alma-Marceau stop serving Line 9, however, the Bus Lines 42, 63, 72 and 92 will also get you within walking distance of this sculpture originally representing the golden liberty torch, which is still popular with American's that come to the city as well as the English.