So many places in Paris are associated with American history, and in particular the American Revolution, that the City of Lights has sometimes been called “the birthplace of the USA.” Many other sites are associated with famous American writers and artists.
In the following list (organized by arrondissement), we invite you to discover some of the most significant American footprints in Paris.
Place du Carrousel
Statue of Lafayette
The bronze statue of Lafayette riding a horse while offering his services to the young American Republic was given by American children to the French government as a present. One of the plaques on one side reads : Friend of America, Washington’s companion in arms, soldier in both countries.
95, rue de Richelieu
It was at number 101 (now 95) in a furnished hotel then known as the Hôtel des Patriotes Etrangers, and which has since been pulled down, that U.S. Ambassador Gouverneur Morris sheltered refugees from the Terror from 1792 to 1793.
47, rue Vieille-du-Temple
Hotel des Ambassadeurs de Hollande
It was here that Beaumarchais operated a fictitious trading company named Roderigue Hortalez & Cie from 1776 to 1778. Louis XVI and the Minister of Foreign Affairs decided to supply the Americans with 1,000,000 livres from the Royal Treasury. At this time, France was officially in peace with England.
13, rue de l’Ancienne Comédie
Here in 1686, Sicilian Francesco Procopio established his café in Paris, the very first place where coffee was served to the public. A popular meeting place over the centuries for French writers, philosophers and revolutionaries, it was also patronized by John Paul Jones, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Here on June 15, 1790, a memorial service to mourn Benjamin Franklin’s death was held in front of Franklin’s portrait.
40, rue du Cherche-Midi
Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte of Rochambeau, Maréchal of France, was sent by King Louis XVI to command the troops that France was sending to help the American colonies. He took part in the Battle of Yorktown. In this building, still the Rochambeau residence, the officers of the French army who had served in America, gathered in 1784 to create the French chapter of the Society of Cincinnati.
56, rue Jacob
In this building, on September 3, 1783, the representatives of the United States and the King of England signed the Treaty of Paris by which England recognized the independence of the thirteen colonies. David Hartley and Richard Oswald signed the treaty on behalf of England. The United States was represented by Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and John Adams. The treaty was ratified early in 1784 by the U.S. Congress assembled in Annapolis. The three American peace commissioners, John Jay, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, began to negotiate a “preliminary” separate peace with the British which was signed in November 1782. The official treaty in 1783 ended the war between the “mother country” and its former colonies. The same day, in Versailles, official peace treaties were signed between England and France and England and Spain.
15, rue du Regard
This is the site of the hôtel de la Guiche, built in 1771 and occupied in 1921 by the buildings of the Crédit Municipal. There was at that time a plaque in the courtyard indicating the plan of the old hôtel de la Guiche, of which one façade had been rebuilt : the gates were those of the former hôtel. It was General John Armstrong’s residence in 1808.
19, rue de Tournon
Résidence of John Paul Jones, creator of the U.S. Navy
John Paul Jones was one of the most colorful heroes of the War of Independence. Born in Scotland in 1747, he joined the Continental Navy in 1775. He was sent to raid English waters in November 1777, commanding a fleet of ships under the American flag. On September 23, 1779, he fought the great battle of his career in the North Sea and captured the fifty-gun British warship, “HMS Serapis”. Back in Paris, he was welcomed as a hero.
1, rue de Vaugirard
This house was inhabited by General Armstrong during the later part of his term of office in 1810.
2, rue de Bellechasse
Palais de la Légion d’Honneur, formerly Hôtel de Salm
This building, which was being built when Thomas Jefferson arrived in France in 1784, was to have a powerful influence on American architecture. In March 1787, Jefferson wrote that he was “violently smitten” with it. He also wrote to French architect Pierre L’Enfant, who later designed the Federal City of Washington, that the two fronts of the Hôtel de Salm were among those “celebrated fronts of modern buildings” which might serve as models for America. Jefferson himself used much of the Hôtel de Salm’s influence to design his residence in Monticello. Early in the 19th century, the Hôtel de Salm was acquired by the Legion of Honour, and the names and portraits of those who have received this decoration are displayed in the museum.
21, rue de l’Université
Albert Gallatin arrived in Paris in March 1816 and found a suitable residence in the very street where Franklin had lodged forty years before. In 1921, this building was the hotel of the Duke de la Salle de Rocheinaure, and in 1927 it was occupied by a department of the U.S. Ministry of Finance.
8, rue d’Anjou
La Fayette lived in the second floor apartment of this house from 1827 until his death in 1834. It bears the inscription: “General La Fayette, defender of liberty in America, one of the founders of liberty in France, born on September 6, 1757 at the Château de Chavagnac in Auvergne, died in this house on May 20, 1834.”
89, rue de la Boétie
Two Ministers Plenipotentiary lived in that part of the rue de la Pépinière which has now become the rue de la Boétie : in 1841 General Cass lived at the former number 89 and in 1860 Charles J. Faulkner at the former number 49.
92, avenue des Champs-Elysées
Hôtel de Langeac
This was Thomas Jefferson’s residence from 1785 to 1789.
Thomas Jefferson moved here when he was officially appointed Ambassador to France in 1785. Jefferson arrived in France when it was still a monarchy and witnessed the beginning of the French Revolution. His prestige was such that he was invited to sit on the National Assembly committee which was drafting a constitution.
68, rue Pierre Charron
The Passport Bureau of the Consulate was established here after World War I, as the increase in the volume of passport work was such that it could not be handled at the old offices in the rue des Italiens.
4, Place de la Concorde
Hôtel de Coislin
In this building on February 6th 1778, Conrad A. Gerard, in the name of Louis XVI, King of France, and Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane and Arthur Lee on behalf of the United States, signed the Treaties of Friendship, Commerce and Alliance by which France recognized the independence of the United States. This treaty provided mutual military support and eternal peace between the two countries. The plaque honoring Benjamin Franklin can still be seen at the corner of rue Royale. The text of the plaque reads as follows :
In this building, on February 6, 1778, Conrad A. Gérard, in the name of Louis XVI, king of France, Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, Arthur Lee on behalf of the United States, signed the Treaties of Frienship, Commerce and Alliance by which France, first of all nations, recognized the independence of the United States.
5, rue François 1er
Ambassador White’s residence, later used by Ambassador Bacon and Herrick. During World War I, it was the headquarters of the American Relief Clearing House founded by Myron T. Herrick to co-ordinate the efforts of American charitable F/A Associations : this organization forwarded provisions and donations to the French public during World War I.
59, rue de Galilée
The offices of the U.S. Embassy on the Place des Etats-Unis were not retained for long, for when Minister McLaine arrived in Paris in 1885 new premises were sought. The lease of the old offices of the Legation at 95, rue de Chaillot, where Minister Washburne had established them twenty years before, was still held, but being woefully inadequate, the premises had been sublet. It was not easy to find new premises on the meagre $800 per annum which the American Government allowed its representative for the purpose. Comfortable and new quarters were at length found in the quarter where the Legation had been situated for many years, at the corner of the Avenue Marceau and the rue Galilée.
35, avenue Hoche
Two Ministers Plenipotentiary lived here: Whitelaw Reid in 1890-1891; Coolidge in 1892. It was the old mansion of the Countess de Gramont, whose father had been French Consul- General in Egypt, and it contained many remarkable Egyptian antiquities which were not at all to the taste of the American Ministers.
19, rue Lavoisier
This was the sixth house inhabited by General Cass and it was used by several Ministers and Chargés d’Affaires subsequently: in 1843 by Henry Ledyard, from 1844 to 1845 by William R. King.
72, rue Auber
The opening of the street caused the disappearance of rue Trudon in which Minister Plenipotentiary Robert Livingston lived.
16, rue Laffitte
The part of the rue Laffitte comprised between the Boulevard des Italiens and the rue de Provence was inhabited by Johnathan Russell, the Chargé d’Affaires at the beginning of the XIXth Century, when it was known as the rue Cerutti.
44, rue de la Victoire
In 1921, a synagogue occupied the site of a hotel which was the seat of the Legation. Two Ministers Plenipotentiary lived here: Edward Livingston from 1836 to 1837 and General Lewis Cass in 1837.
24, rue de Vintimille
The Place de Vintimille and the Square Berlioz occupy the site of the garden of the pavilion built before the Revolution by the architect Carpentier, for the Fermier-Général de la Bouxière : the trees of the Place are the remains of an immense park, and the grass plot of the Square is on the spot where a pond used to be. It was in this pavilion that Monroe lived in 1794. The chief entrance was on rue de Clichy.
30, rue d’Hauteville
The American Consulate was established here from 1842 to 1844. This is the earliest reference to a separate Consulate, although there was a Consul appointed to assist Benjamin Franklin who apparently worked with him in the Legation.
35, rue de Picpus
Picpus Cemetery- La Fayette’s grave
Marie Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert Mottier, Marquis de La Fayette, signed an agreement with Silas Deane in 1777, to serve as a general in the Continental Army. He obtained the title of Major General from the Continental Congress. He was one of the actors of the French American victory of Yorktown. Back in France, he was Commander of the National Guard during the French Revolution. He returned twice to the United States after the war and was made honorary citizen of the United States. He is buried next to his wife in the cemetery of Picpus. Every 4th of July, U.S. officials, members of the French Cincinnati Society and the French Sons of the American Revolution gather to remember La Fayette.
43-47 rue d’Auteuil
John Adams’ residence from 1784 to 1785.
John Adams lived here with his wife and his two grown children for almost a year between September 1784 and August 1785. In Paris, Adams replaced Silas Deane to negotiate for the United States under the Treaties of Friendship and Commerce which had been signed in February 1778. In February 1780, he was back once again to work with Benjamin Franklin and John Jay on the treaty of peace and commerce with England. With Jay and Franklin, he negotiated a separate peace with the British in November 1782. In 1785, he became the first Ambassador to the Court of King James and left Paris for London. He asked to return to the United States in 1788.
95, rue de Chaillot
The Legation offices were established here, but the premises were vacated in 1881. The lease was retained, however, and the premises were sublet until 1886. The premises were not good: they were reached by two flights of stairs and were situated over a grocery on one side and a laundry on the other.
3, Place des Etats-Unis
This was the residence of Minister Morton, but it seems also to have been the offices of the Legation, for when he reached Paris in the late summer of 1881 he found the whole Legation staff ready to move from 95, rue de Chaillot to new quarters in a nicer neighbourhood. It was not to soon, for, as he reported, the old accomodation was deficient. One serious drawback existed in connection with the new premises: its name. For some reasons or other which it was difficult to make the French understand, the mention of the Place de la Bitche excited mingled merriment and derision among Morton’s compatriots in Paris. Even the State Department, when it read the name at the head of the Minister’s notepaper, was shocked. It was evident that something should be done. Morton called on M. Herold, the Prefect of the Seine, and explained the difficulty and the name was changed to the Place des Etats-Unis – a graceful comliment to a sister Republic. The Place de la Bitche was named after a small town near the Belgian border which had put up a heroic resistance to the invading armies during the Franco-Prussian war.
75, avenue Foch
Known as l’Avenue de l’Impératrice, and then, following World War I, to Avenue Foch, it was later changed to the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne. Here was installed the Legation under E. B. Washburne, who remained in Paris during the siege and the Commune; the German Government had confided to him the interests of the Germans living in Paris, and he secured their departure. This house was invaded by the Communards, but was successfully preserved against fire. In September 1870, after the gates of Paris were closed during the Franco-Prussian war, Washburn left the Avenue Montaigne, where he had been lodging, and returned to this home. The evacuation of the Germans from Paris was followed by the insurrection of March 18, 1871. On that day the Commune was proclaimed and the regular Government of France was driven out and established itself at Versailles. Washburne followed the Government. Versailles being overcrowded, he was only able to hire a small room in a side street, at number 13, rue Mademoiselle. For the first time since the foundation of the American Government was, the Minister of the United States was obliged to work outside of Paris.
Statue of George Washington
The statue of George Washington by the American sculptor Daniel Chester French was inaugurated July 3, 1900. It is a bronze statue of Washington on horseback. It was given by a committee of American women. The text of the statue reads as follows : “gift of the women of the United States of America in memory of the brotherly help given by France to their fathers in the fight for Independence.”
6, rue de Presbourg
It was inhabited from 1863 to 1864 by Minister Dayton, and from 1867 to 1868 by General John A. Dix. Minister.
Rue Raynouard / rue Singer
Hôtel de Valentinois
Benjamin Franklin’s residence from 1777 to 1785.
The site of Benjamin Franklin’s home for nearly ten years. When Franklin arrived in Paris in 1777, he was invited to stay in the Hôtel de Valentinois by Le Ray de Chaumont, an international merchant. There he worked with the American mission to the Court of France, Arthur Lee, Silas Deane and later John Adams and John Jay. It was here, too, that he conducted experiments on electricity. The most brilliant minds came to Passy to visit him. He was invited by the King to Versailles and met Voltaire at the Académie des Sciences. On November 20, 1783, he witnessed the first balloon ascension with the Marquis d’Arlande and Pilâtre de Rozier. He returned to America in 1785.
Jardins du Trocadéro
Statue of Amiral de Grasse
This statue by the sculptor Paul Landowski, standing in the gardens of the Trocadéro in memory of De Grasse, who commanded the naval blockade at Yorktown, was presented to the city by M. Kingsley Macomber, an American citizen. It was inaugurated in 1931.