Weekend Road Trip to Paris, Texas

August 12, 2011
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Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Weekend Road Trip to Paris, Texas

If you’re looking for fun Texas travel ideas, consider a road trip to Paris, Texas. My husband and I recently drove there for an impromptu, “let’s get the hell out of dodge,” weekend and had a great time. (To see the write up I did for Discovering Dallas – Fort Worth, check out, Paris Texas Day Trip – Come See the Other Eiffel Tower.

With only Sunday and Monday off, we couldn’t venture too far from our little burg in the DFW region of north Texas. Our basic plan was to escape the crazy heatwave we’re having this summer. A quick glance at a heat index map of the USA, however, made it clear that there was no place within a day’s drive that qualified as cool – and by ‘cool,’ I mean 85 degrees or less.

Culbertson fountain in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Culbertson fountain in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Even so, a change of scenery sounded fun. Last year, for instance, we took a quick road trip to New Mexico, stopping in Roswell along the way. I wanted to see the UFO museum there and whether or not the town openly embraces or rejects its alien reputation. (Check out My Close Encounter with Roswell, New Mexico if you’re curious. No alien sightings, but we did find a great Tex Mex joint.)

This time around, when I asked my husband for road trip suggestions, he just shrugged and said, “You’re the travel writer. Pick a place and we’ll go.”

Lion detail on fountain in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Lion detail on fountain in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Using Twitter for Road Trip Ideas

So I popped onto Twitter and asked for road trip ideas in the Dallas – Fort Worth area. People came up with all sorts of  suggestions, and I even learned about a new site called Mygola.com where you post travel questions such as mine and get answers from regular folks. You’ve gotta love Twitter!

Glen Rose and Granbury were the Texan towns most often suggested for our road trip, and while I love Granbury’s charming town square, and intend to check out Glen Rose, Paris, Texas – which no one actually suggested – won out in the end.

Cherub on the fountain in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Cherub on the fountain in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Why visit Paris, Texas?

So why, after all that great advice, did we end up in Paris? Simply put, the more I researched the town, the more whimsical and endearing it sounded. For instance:

  • The city built an Eiffel Tower Replica, which wears a bright red cowboy hat on top.
  • The local cemetery features a statue in which Jesus is depicted wearing cowboy boots.
  • The city’s walking/cycling trail, a.k.a. the Trail de Paris features a scale replica of the solar system painted along the way.
  • According to online reviews the town has an excellent bakery.

I confess, it was those reviews of Paris Bakery that clinched it.  I had visions of sitting at a shady sidewalk table, sipping espresso and nibbling a freshly baked croissant – et voila! I had to make it happen.

I grabbed my traveling bag, tossed in my red beret, our toothbrushes, and – this being Texas – some heavy duty sunscreen, then told my hubby, “Let’s spend the weekend in Paris!”

Courthouse column detail in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Courthouse column detail in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Driving to Paris

It’s roughly a 4 hour drive from our little castle to Paris, Texas. I say “roughly” because Google maps and our GPS did not agree. We had quite a tussel with our GPS, in fact, who insisted that we drive through Dallas. How could we convey to her linear AI mind that we were in the mood for picturesque back roads and dusty little burgs? Ms. GPS was programmed for efficient Point A to Point B journeys, after all, not leisurely road trip meandering.

We ignored her instructions, and drove in the opposite direction – away from Dallas – as she repeatedly admonished us in her crisp British accent to, “Make a U Turn, when possible.” Ms. GPS finally relented and sent us on a serpentine route via dusty back roads. I could anthropomorphize even more, but I think that route was the only one possible by then.

Pink granite lion in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Pink granite lion in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Downtown Paris, Texas

The mercury was flirting with 110 by the time we reached downtown Paris. We parked in some shade by the main square which features a lovely marble fountain donated to the city in 1927 by a rich fellow named Culbertson. The fountain creates a beautiful centerpiece in old town Paris, and is rich with detail.

Antique Shops and more…

Culbertson Fountain is flanked on all sides by interesting Mom and Pop businesses, as well as a franchise or two, but only one place was open on Sunday, a little antique shop on the corner called the Antique Mall.

When we returned Monday, a bunch of places were open including a health food joint called Vital Beet, and a lively home interior shop called Spangler’s.

These Parisian venues are fun to explore, and the staff was friendly everywhere we went. We spent most of our time wandering through antique shops, following a little map which highlights 15 different ones, all within walking distance of the Culbertson Fountain.  My favorite is called Priest’s Emporium. It had the widest variety of items and included quirky vintage toys as well as furniture and glassware.

Sam Bell Maxey House (photo by Tui Cameron)

Sam Bell Maxey House (photo by Tui Cameron)

Historic Architecture in Paris, Texas

Paris is one of those rare towns in America which resists looking like “Anytown, USA” by actively cultivating its charms. Fans of Victorian architecture will enjoy wandering through the Historic Neighborhood on foot or by car. Paris is surprisingly lush, too. I admired all the big old trees as much as I admired all the big old houses.

Most of these older houses are well kept, but some are rundown. Those rundown ones spawned numerous daydreams of fixing them up, then inviting my dearest friends to move in with me (kinda like Professor X did for the X Men, y’know?) Most of these older homes are private residences, except for the Sam Bell Maxey House, which is a museum. Unfortunately, as of this writing, it is closed for remodeling.

Downtown Paris features old style buildings, one of which has gargoyles on the corners, as you can see in my photos. I especially loved the Lamar County Courthouse, which is a short walk from the town square. It’s a pink granite building featuring ornate columns and other carved details such as smirking lions.

Gargoyles in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Gargoyles in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Eiffel Tower Replica

By the time we reached, “the second largest Eiffel Tower in the world,” I was overheated. My face turned blotchy and red, as if I’d been running, and I was super thirsty. It was my own fault, though, since earlier, at the town square, I turned up my nose at the idea of buying a drink at Subway.

Given the choice, I prefer to spend money at Mom and Pop places rather than franchises. Trouble is, on a Sunday in a sleepy Texan town, one is not always given the choice. I finally swallowed my pride (as well as several refills of iced tea) at the local Dairy Queen.

As a result, I only snapped a couple quick photos of the Eiffel Tower Replica that first afternoon. We returned the next morning, though, and I donned my red wool beret and posed my heart out in front of the structure, wiping my forehead between shots. Since it was already topping 100 degrees, I instinctively stood in a shadow, which did not make  good photos. C’est la vie!

Jesus in cowboy boots (photo by Tui Cameron)

Jesus in cowboy boots (photo by Tui Cameron)

Jesus in Cowboy Boots

Next on our must-see-while-in-Paris list was the legendary Jesus in Cowboy Boots located in Evergreen Cemetery. No one quite knows why the sculptor chose such iconic footwear. Some say it was a compromise since the artist did not know how to sculpt feet. Who knows?

For those who enjoy wandering through old graveyards, Evergreen Cemetery is a real treat. I took a bunch of photos there, which I’ll share in another post, since this one is already long and photo laden!

Giant soup can in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Giant soup can in Paris, TX (photo by Tui Cameron)

Trail de Paris Solar System Replica

The Valley of the Caddo Museum recently created a model solar system along the Trail de Paris walking/cycling trail. It was too hot to walk the whole trail, but we did find Jupiter, which is 4 inches in diameter. Elsewhere, they have the sun at 42 inches round and, yes, they include Pluto, even though it is a mere .07 inches in diameter at this scale.

Huge Campbell Soup Can

One rather anticlimatic item on our Paris, Texas sightseeing tour was the allegedly “huge” Campbell Soup can. Turns out that it’s simply a larger than life can of tomato soup attached to the sign at the entrance gate of the soup factory.  It’s worth a drive-by, especially if you’re an Andy Warhol fan, but it is certainly not a must-see.

Trail de Paris, TX solar system replica (photo by Tui Cameron)

Trail de Paris, TX solar system replica (photo by Tui Cameron)

Planning Your Trip to Paris, Texas

Here’s something I wish I could have found when I was researching Paris, Texas as a road trip destination – a list of addresses for the main attractions to plug into your GPS:

Culbertson Fountain in Historical Downtown Paris: The fountain is located right across from the local Chamber of Commerce, 8 West Plaza, Paris, TX 75460

Evergreen Cemetery – Jesus in Cowboy Boots statue: Wander through the older section of the cemetery until you see the grave marker for Willet Babcock. Evergreen Cemetery, 560 Evergreen St, Paris, TX 75460

Eiffel Tower Replica: Located at Love Civic Center, 2025 South Collegiate Drive, Paris, TX 75460

Trail de Paris: There are several trailheads. Look for a sign marking the one at Noyes Stadium, 1245 24th Street, Paris, TX 75460

Sam Bell Maxey House: 812 South Church Street, Paris, TX 75460

Campbell Soup Can: You can view this at the entrance to the factory at 500 NW Loop 286 Paris, TX 75460

Y’all Come Back

Paris is a friendly town, and business owners actually say, “Y’all come back,” as you head out the door. I just may have to go back because the Paris Bakery, the business that beckoned me from afar with promises of espresso and pastries was closed for vacation during our visit! Not to mention that it is really hard to wear a wool beret in triple digit heat.

Even so, I had fun and agree with the town slogan for Paris, Texas which proclaims it to be, “A great place to hang your hat.” Of course, I doubt they had a red wool beret in mind…

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20 Responses to Weekend Road Trip to Paris, Texas

  1. Lily
    February 11, 2013 at 15:07

    I actually live in Paris, TX and highly recommend the bakery! I believe the week they were on vacation was the week their first child was being born. (They have a facebook page to help keep customers up to date). Go on Saturday night and take your own wine and you can have one of their specialty pizzas while enjoying live entertainment on the back patio.

    Also visit Lillian Kelley’s while you are on the square. They are open Tuesday-Saturday!

    Glad you enjoyed our town!

  2. Optimistic Mom
    December 16, 2011 at 21:49

    Wow! I have never heard of Paris, TX. Thanks for sharing. The photos are awesome. I haven’t thought of TX as a vacation spot other than the bigger cities that I am familiar with. I guess now I have another place to add when in TX. ;)

    • mentalmosaic
      December 17, 2011 at 23:52

      Hi Optimistic Mom,

      Thanks for swinging by from Chasing Joy’s #fbf Flashback Friday and leaving a comment.

      Paris, Texas is a fun place to visit, although I’d suggest heading there in cooler weather than we did!

      ~Tui

  3. September 29, 2011 at 05:49

    I would pay to see the “Jesus wearing cowboy boots” sculpture! I’ve hard of this place a long time ago when someone tricked me saying they went to Paris and while I was oohing and aahing, he added Texas to the end of the statement LOL.nnNext time I’m in TX and near, I’ll definitely visit!nnKesha from #commenthour

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  5. Minnemom
    August 25, 2011 at 12:58

    I wish I’d read a post like yours before we went to Paris.u00a0 Our Paris pass-through was a disappointment, from difficulty finding the Eiffel tower (wish the community would sign it better) to unfriendly service at the local KFC (we too ended up eating at fast-food).u00a0 It looks as if you’ve found some gems in Paris, Texas.u00a0 Maybe we’ll give it another try sometime.u00a0 Enjoyed the post.

    • mentalmosaic
      August 25, 2011 at 10:39

      Sorry to hear that, but I see how that could happen. That’s why I included a list of addresses to the top attractions in Paris, Texas in my post. It took a while to round up that info, for some reason. Hope you get to swing through again. It is a fun little town. Also, thank you for stopping by my blog. Always nice to meet someone new. :) ~Tui

  6. August 18, 2011 at 00:09

    Got great photos! This is my second time of the day to see photos of Paris, Texas. I haven’t been in Paris, Texas perhaps this is the sign that I should visit there. Hope my husband would bring me there, I want to take photos of those lovely views and send it to my mother in NYC. Copy those addresses, thanks!

    • mentalmosaic
      August 19, 2011 at 14:01

      Sounds like you have some synchronicity with Paris, Texas going on right now, eh? It was fun. I love road trips, and hope to visit again – when it is cooler and the bakery is open! Thanks for visiting my blog. :) ~Tui

  7. August 16, 2011 at 02:25

    Have you seen the Movie Paris Texas? I did along time ago and now because of this I must netflix it again. Excellent Ry Cooder musiic on the soundtrack

    • August 16, 2011 at 02:26

      yikes..a long (two words) also , movie Paris, Texas. Sheesh.

    • mentalmosaic
      August 19, 2011 at 13:58

      I saw the movie “Paris TX” after our road trip. The real Paris Texas is much more lush than the barren place they show in the movie. And, yeah, I loved the Ry Cooder soundtrack. That really complimented the feel of the movie. ~Tui

      • Di
        February 26, 2014 at 03:06

        Thanks for this. Architecture around the city looks fantastic.

        P.S. The film Paris, TX was actually filmed around Marathon and the Big Bend area.

        • Tui Snider
          February 26, 2014 at 10:40

          Hi Di, Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. The info in this blog post about Paris is included in my book UNEXPECTED TEXAS. There are lots of really fun towns to explore in North Texas. If you’re an architecture buff, you might also enjoy Jefferson, Decatur, and – oh – don’t forget the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells.

        • Tui Snider
          February 26, 2014 at 16:08

          p.s. Thanks for that tidbit about Paris, Texas. I wondered where it had actually been filmed. :)

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