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.
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.”
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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…