Sunday, April 11, 2010

Oh Say Can You See...

There's a lot of American history scattered about the streets of Paris.  Some of it is in the names of the streets themselves: Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt (and his own Metro station as well), Avenue du President Wilson, Place des Etats Unis and probably others that escape me at the moment. 

There are also plaques and other memorials to events that shaped the course of American history while taking place in France.  On rue Jacob is the building once known as the Hôtel d'York, where the peace treaty between Great Britain and the nascent United States was signed, recognizing the independence of the latter.  On September 3, 1783 John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay sat in that building, knowing that they had just signed a document that might change the course of history. 

Ben Franklin was the new nation's first Ambassador to France.  He loved it and the French are said to have loved him.  That's why I'm surprised not to find an Avenue Benjamin Franklin.  He was succeeded in the office by Thomas Jefferson, another Francophile American without a rue in Paris.  Jefferson does have a statue though, on the quai near the Legion d'Honneur building.

The president he served has a statue as well, sited in the Place d'Iena, at the end of Avenue du President Wilson.  George has not had a street or place named after him either, but he looks quite important on that horse.

The French have taken to heart another of our early revolutionaries, revolution being something that makes the French heart beat faster, and Thomas Paine, author of The Rights of Man,  has a very impressive plaque on a wall near the Luxembourg Garden.  I had no idea that he had been a deputé to the Convention during the French Revolution, having been made a French citizen by decree.  He spoke no French.

And let's not forget the French lady who came to the U.S. and became the symbol of what the country was said to stand for.  A small version of the Staute of Liberty holds up her torch on the end of the Ile des Cygnes, a bit of land in the middle of the Seine, near the awful Grenelle housing development.

Americans may feel welcome here.  We do.


Seine Judeet (Judith) said...

Isn't that the current "Hôtel d'Angleterre" there on Rue Jacob? I've stayed there (quite a few years ago) and loved it... great area there, isn't it?

Judy (who drifted over here a few months ago from Ken's Saint Aignan blog :)

p.s. I don't mean to pry, but I've been wondering what the story is behind your being in Paris ... I have the impression that it's a lengthy-but-not-forever stay? I've been wondering how it all came about :))

Shelli said...

Judy, it's not the Hotel d'Angleterre, which is a block away and under construction at the moment. This is next door to the Hotel du Danube.

As for our situation, I'd call it an experiment. We're here for a lengthy stay, yes, but we're bouncing back and forth for a while. In fact we'll be spending the summer in the US.

Maybe I'll post an explanation someday. Since this started as a blog for readers who know us I haven't thought of doing that.