One benefit as your French slowly improves is that a wider range of books becomes available; you can untangle the umbilical chord tethering you to the translated section of your local Barnes & Noble-type joint. While sometimes I’ll get ballsy and try to flip through a history of France in the native tongue, it inevitably becomes tedious and I swear I hear someone whisper “psst, Captain Pretentious, let’s not get carried away“. So for the most part I use my limited super powers to focus on more palatable subjects, namely how to become the best tourist possible.
When I first got here I thought the aim was to shed the visitor status, not enhance it. In many ways that is where I’m headed, but becoming too much of a local robs you of the discovery that a Paris or New York have to offer on a daily basis. So for now I’m forgoing that express train and making as many local stops as I can.
I found some French books written about all the hidden spots and little-known secrets of Paris, which I carefully plot out on photocopies of each arrondissement, or district. For lack of a better term I call them my Goonie maps. A lot of the locations are fascinating but never make their way into English tourist books. I like showing you guys the larger photo sets of sprawling castle estates and cathedral facades, but I also want to contrast them with some of these quieter notes, quick-hitters of intriguing stuff you could blow right past on your way to the big attractions. This series will be an ongoing thing as I uncover these little nuggets.
For number one I’ll start with something close to home.
I never knew this, but before Texas was a US state it spent nine years as an independent republic. France was the first nation to recognize its independence and this plaque marks the Paris building where from 1842-1843 there actually existed an Embassy of Texas, completely disconnected from anything American. Consider yourself Goonie’d.
Ooh, this is fun! HOw did you come up with the name, Goonie?
Afraid I can’t take credit for that one: “The Goonies” was a favorite childhood movie of mine where young kids follow a pirate’s treasure map, Steven Spielberg style. So I’m partly recreating a childhood fantasy I suppose.