There are many reminders in Paris of the friendship between France and the United States, which dates back to the birth of the two democracies. For example, the ceilings of the metro platforms for line 7 and line 9 at station Chaussée d’Antin-Lafayette are decorated with frescos on this theme.
On the platform of line 7 is a 470m² fresco by American designer Hilton McConicco for the 1989 bicentennial of the French Revolution titled “La Fayette en Amérique”. The vast image depicts General La Fayette pointing at the New World (the baby), while the baby looks towards the soldiers of General La Fayette (the Old World). Liberty is represented by a young woman looking past her flame towards the treaty of cooperation signed by La Fayette and General Washington.
On platform for line 9 is another fresco by Jean Paul Chambas representing the American Revolution and General La Fayette. There are little montages of American culture like Elvis, Statue of Liberty, and Martin Luther King.
On a more recent note, last week I attended the 235th anniversary of the United States’ Declaration of Independence (aka: 4th of July) at the American Ambassador’s Residence in Paris.
You might think this was a hot dogs and beer party for Americans in Paris, but this particular party was held in part for our French hosts, and at least half of the guests seemed to be French. Enormous French and American flags hung from the elegant 19th-century mansion’s facade, and the Dip Notes (the embassy’s choir) sang both the Marseillaise French national anthem and the Star Spangled Banner (the former being rather graphic, the latter being rather difficult to sing well for most mortals).
The celebrated soprano Renée Fleming then sang a beautiful rendition of America the Beautiful, followed by a rousing speech in French (bravo!) by Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin about the shared Franco-American ideals of democracy and liberty. On a lighter note, two members of the Glee cast, Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale, sang three songs accompanied by the US Air Force jazz band, Check Six.
In case you’re thinking, “Hey, what’s with the fancy-pants party during an economic crisis?” rest assured that the festivities, booze and snacks were funded by American corporate sponsors who wanted to show off their wares to the locals (such as Tupperware who gave everyone a fabulous parting gift of a picnic bag, and Samuel Adams who showed the French that Americans actually do make decent beer).We would all have to wait for the French Fête de la Bastille on July 14th to see fireworks, but it was still a fun evening of Franco-American-ness for this newly-minted dual citizen.
And yes, this is a macaron topped with an edible seal of the United States of America. Guess the flavor…