Sunday, July 03, 2022

Americans in Paris

Mural: "Ben Franklin, Colonial Postmaster," 1938, by George Harding at the Ariel Rios Federal Building
in Washington, D.C. Source: Library of Congress. 

My overall project for the current "Paris in July" blog event is writers who wrote in French about Paris. In contrast, as we are celebrating the founding of the US tomorrow, July 4, it's also interesting to think about American expats who lived in Paris, and what they mean to American history. I started this post with a mural about Benjamin Franklin, who went to France to represent the American Colonies at the start of the Revolution, so he can be considered the first ex-pat. Franklin is a man of so many accomplishments that it's hard to represent him with just one image! 

American ExPats

Just for fun, here's my list of Americans who lived for at least a while in Paris. Some wrote about Paris, some didn't.  Fans of these short-term or life-long Paris residents often like to visit the streets where they lived, the cafes where they hung out, or even their graves, if they are buried in a Paris cemetery. I have included a brief word on what they did, and the approximate dates of their stay.

Benjamin Franklin, Diplomat & Writer: 1776-1785

Thomas Jefferson, Diplomat & Statesman: 1784-1789 

Henry James, Novelist: 1875-1876

Edith Wharton, Novelist: 1907-1937

Gertrude Stein, Writer & Host of Famous Salon: 1903-1946

Alice B. Toklas, Partner of Gertrude Stein: 1910-1967 

Ernest Hemingway, Novelist: 1921-1928 

Janet Flanner, Journalist: 1922-1939 and 1944-1979

Josephine Baker, Dancer & Stage Personality: 1925-1975

A. J. Liebling, Journalist: 1926-1927

Anaïs Nin, Writer: 1924-1940 

Henry Miller, Writer: 1930-1939

Art Buchwald, Journalist: 1948-1961

James Baldwin, Writer: 1948-1970

Chester Heims, Writer: 1953-1984 

Julia and Paul Child, Cookbook Creators: 1948-1954

Nina Simone, Singer-Songwriter: 1981-1983

Jim Morrison, Singer-Songwriter: 1971. His grave in Pére Lachaise Cemetery is much more famous than his brief Paris stay at the end of his life.

Paris Homes of the American Ex-Patriates

If you walk around in Paris, you will see many information placards on the walls of buildings, frequently naming a famous person who lived in that house or an event that occurred nearby. Many of the people on the list above are commemorated this way at the Paris locations where they lived. However, not all of those on the list are so remembered. For example, James Baldwin when in Paris lived in cheap hotels. Or Henry Miller who lived in a variety of places. Here are a few images of such placards:

Benjamin Franklin’s street in the Passy district
is now named for him.

I have often seen this doorway and placard identifying Hemingway’s best-known Paris residence
because we have a friend who lives directly across the street.

Julia and Paul Child lived in this Paris building — but
there is no placard. She’s not that well-known in France.

After becoming rich & famous, dancer Josephine Baker lived in this chateau.
It was in the Dordogne, location corrected -- thanks, Kwarkito!
She adopted many children and made them a home here. Then she lost her money, and had to sell. (source)

Nina Simone’s exact Paris address isn’t known,
but this graffiti appeared in the Montmartre area in 2012. (source)

The grave of Jim Morrison in 2021, 50 years after his death (source).
Gertrude Stein is also buried in the very famous Pére Lachaise Cemetery.

Blog post © 2022 mae sander, photos Wikipedia or as credited.
Shared with Sami's mural project and with Paris in July.


kwarkito said...

J'ai découvert récemment une plaque indiquant que Lee Miller avait habité rue Victor Considérant (dans un fort bel immeuble). Il se trouve que l'on peut voir certaines de ses photos dans une exposition consacrée aux femmes reporters de guerre en ce moment à Denfert Rochereau dans le nouveau musée de la résistance

kwarkito said...

Le chateau de Josephine baker n'était pas dans les environs de partis, mais en Dordogne

Divers and Sundry said...

I'd love to live in another country for a while. And Paris! I understand why people choose it.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I was aware of so many of these names, but the name that surprised me most was that Julia Child wasn't well known in Paris. I thought for sure she was. Lovely photos and interesting information. Nice mural, too.

eileeninmd said...

It is interesting to learn about the famous Americans that lived in Paris.
I have never been to Paris. My only time in France was when hubby and I drove to see Mt Blanc while staying in Switzerland. Take care, have a happy new week!

Emma at Words And Peace / France Book Tours said...

Here s a great video on Josephine Baker in France, and her chateau in Dordogne, with the children she adopted:
On the topic of Americans in Paris , I highly recommend The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris (1830-1900), by David McCULLOUGH.
I talked a bit about it here:

Mae Travels said...

@Emma -- I have read David McCullough's book, reviewed it here:

best... mae

Iris Flavia said...

Great mural(s) and interesting, I didn´t know!

Terrie said...

Wow - who knew all those people ( and MANY more I'm sure) spent time in Paris. I wouldn't mind spending a year or two there myself! Thanks for another informative post! And thanks for the visit!
Terrie@ Bookshelf Journeys

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

I love the placards throughout the cities of the world where famous people have lived. I have photos of several and will look to see which Americans in Paris I've taken.

Bertiebo said...

I find it strange that of all the names on your list I do NOT know the journalists. Flanner, Buchwald etc. I love the paintings especially Nina Simone

Sami said...

I had no idea so many famous Americans had lived in Paris or that their names were honoured with streets named after them.
Thanks for participating in Monday Murals Mae and Happy 4th of July!

Jeanie said...

What a terrific post! I loved learning the names (some new to me) and especially those interesting and very diverse plaques. Very cool about naming the streets.

Marg said...

It would be lovely to be able to live in Paris for a while! A girl can dream right. Although it is fair to say I am not famous, and never will be!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

France seems to offer a kind of freedom for many Americans they could not find at home.

thecuecard said...

Great list and post. I'm not sure I realized that Edith Wharton spent so many years in Paris. I knew Baldwin was there -- but that's more years than I expected. We went to the Dordogne once and loved it. But I don't recall seeing that chateau!