Thoughts on Paris:

I’m contemplating a trip this spring to Paris, and so have been thinking about some of the lesser known stories and events in this great city.  From time to time I may post a few musings. Here is one I was reading about today:

In 1785, Thomas Jefferson succeeded Benjamin Franklin as ambassador to France.  It was Jefferson’s first trip to France; he had longed to travel there as a young man on a grand tour of Europe, but was unable to do so.  When he arrived in Paris in 1785, he was 42 years old and all there was was new to him.  Franklin had been both an incredibly effective diplomat and statesman in France, as well as being very popular socially.  Jefferson initially found it difficult to succeed Franklin, and indeed there were far fewer many affairs of state that required his attention in contrast to his predecessor.  Hence, Jefferson plunged into the social scene in Paris, its arts and aristocrats, its fine food and impressive wines.  When he left Paris in 1789 at the age of 46 as the French Revolution was beginning, Jefferson’s life was profoundly changed despite having only been able to immerse in Paris years after he had initially longed to see it.  His servants learned French cookery in Paris, and were trained to thereafter prepare meals in the French manner both at Monticello and at the White House after Jefferson succeeded to the presidency of the United States.  Jefferson also shipped dozens of pieces of French cookware from France back home to the US when he left his ambassadorial post, at great cost.  Ultimately, he hired a French chef, Honoré Julien, to helm the kitchen at the White House and bring French cuisine to the highest levels of dining in the US.  He also brought with him to the United States books, wine, art and a trove of memories with him from France.  He never traveled there again after he returned to the United States, but remained devoted and in love with its capital city, observing that “a walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.”

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