A group of three American guides from Lire et Partir, a literary tour group, led us on a ramble through the 7e and 6e arrondissements, from the new statue of Thomas Jefferson across from the Musée d'Orsay, along the Seine and down the rue Jacob and beyond, regaling us with stories of the Founding Fathers who made Paris their home in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Remarkably well researched, with enticing anecdotes and unexpected discoveries, the tour gets a hearty A- score for sheer enjoyment and informative fun. At 15 euros per person, it was a Great American 4th of July Bargain in Paris. And this was just their Left-Bank tour! Despite my earnest pleadings, they are not planning to offer a tour on Wednesday the 4th itself, but are instead having a repeat performance next Sunday, July 8, from 2 - 5. Reservations and info: 01.42.08.00.42, 06.22.50.71.29, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can't make it to next Sunday's "Founding Fathers" tour, but are looking for a way to celebrate Independence Day in Paris, I recommend the following. Pick up a copy of Paris: Birthplace of the U.S.A. by Daniel and Alice Jouve. Currently available at Brentano's or the Musée Carnavalet, this history-packed guidebook lays out walking tours that cover all of the key sites in Paris where the fledgling American nation found its earliest wings, from the Hotel de Valentinois in the 16e arrondissement to the Cimitière de Picpus in the 12e, where LaFayette is buried.
In the book's foreword, former U.S. Ambassador to France Walter J. P. Curley reminds us,
France's prompt and generous support of the American Revolution -- with moral suasion, men, materiel, and money -- was a crucial factor in establishing my country's independence. Rochambeau, LaFayette, Washington, Franklin -- are names which are inter-related very early in the academic life of every American student.Paris: Birthplace of the U.S.A is an excellent city guide for any day of the year. But this week, following its walks can be one small way to celebrate a Happy 231st Birthday abroad for our still rather youthful nation.