Miss out on that trek through Europe while you were in college? Well, sew an American flag to that rucksack and strap it on your back, because you’re going on a whirlwind tour!
London, Florence, Berlin, Vienna––even Athens and Moscow! And there’s no need for a passport or the nuisance of converting your dollars to those bothersome euros. Heck, you won’t even have to learn to say “Où est la toilette?” They’re all within hours of the state capital!
Of course, you’ll miss out on Big Ben and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And you’re unlikely to find a cheese shop or decent pair of lederhosen. But it’s all about drinking with strangers and meeting folks with funny accents anyway, right?
If you are intent on seeing the sights, though, there is at least one Euro-Texan city that’s capitalized on its familiar moniker. Just two hours northeast of Dallas, you’ll discover the romantic city of Paris, where you and your amour can rendezvous beneath the majestic Eiffel Tower.
OK, so at only 65 feet, majestic might be overselling it. But it was for a short time the second tallest Eiffel Tower in the world.
Sadly, it was bested when Paris, Tennessee, rebuilt their 60-foot version with an added 10 feet, and again when Las Vegas constructed a one-half-scale replica shortly thereafter.
Rather than enter into an elevation race, the people of Lamar County decided instead to redeem themselves by making their landmark distinctly Texan. In 1998, a giant, red cowboy hat was bolted to the top of the tower. It was a blatant gimmick that many locals considered tres stupide, but it has certainly set Paris, Texas, apart from the others in a way that isn’t likely to be duplicated. Besides, it makes for a better postcard.
Signs warn against climbing the tower, declaring it an “unsafe activity” in both English and Spanish, though curiously not in French. Climbing wouldn’t do any good, anyway, since there’s no observation deck, which itself wouldn’t do any good since there’s nothing much here other than the tower to observe.
But if you find you just can’t get enough Parisian copycatting, you can always swing by in midsummer. On the third Saturday of every July, the city holds a hugely scaled-down version of the Tour de France they call the Tour de Paris.
If that’s still not enough for you, well, you’re pretty much out of luck. French fever hasn’t really caught on in the rest of the city, so there aren’t that many options. If you call around, though, maybe you can find yourself a red beret, a nice baguette and a copy of Gigi.