Bonjour, y’all! Take a drive to charming Paris just south of the Red River in East Texas, about 110 miles northeast of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, for an ideal day trip or weekend getaway, and enjoy the friendliness of the people who want to share all the good things about the second-largest Paris in the world.
1. Paris’s Texanized Eiffel Tower
You’ll find the World’s Largest Eiffel Tower topped with a red cowboy hat, of course, and covered with colorful lights at night at Jefferson Road at Collegiate Drive in Paris, Texas.
2. The Culbertson Fountain In Downtown Paris
Downtown, explore wonderful antique shops, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and a theater with live performances amid unique WWI-era architecture dating back to 1916-1918, all surrounding the famous Culbertson Italian Marble Fountain. The fountain was a tribute to the rebuild after the great fire of 1916. A historical marker nearby tells the story of Mr. Culbertson’s legacy and contribution to Paris.
3. Get To Know A Diverse Group Of Pioneers Who Settled In Paris
John Chisum was a cattle baron, providing herds to Charles Goodnight and acquiring contracts to supply beef to New Mexico, Arizona, and Kansas. He commissioned herds to the local and territorial livestock associations for more than 30 years. He never married and died of cancer in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Paris is his burial place, where his father moved the family in 1837.
Bass Reeves was born a slave in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas. Reeves, one of the first black Deputy U.S. Marshalls West of the Mississippi River, arrested over 3,000 felons and shot and killed 14 outlaws in self-defense.
Belle Star, a notorious frontier outlaw queen and horse thief, farmed near the town.
Retired outlaw Frank James, brother of Jesse, clerked in a local dry goods store.
4. The Sam Bell Maxey House State Historic Site
This home, built in High Victorian Italianate style, showcases the original Sam Bell Maxey family furnishings, clothing, and historical letters. Maxey was a prominent Mexican War veteran, Confederate General, and U.S. Senator with friends in high places. His roommate at West Point was Stonewall Jackson, and classmate Ulysses S. Grant helped him obtain a presidential pardon after the Civil War so he could run for office. Captain Richard King of King Ranch fame gifted the mounted Longhorn skull. The house boasted the first flushable toilet in town.
5. Learn About The 1916 Great Fire And Rebuild
On March 21, 1916, at 5 p.m., a fire fanned by high winds broke out in Paris and for the next ten hours destroyed everything in its path. With $300 million in damages estimated in today’s dollars, the fire burned 264 acres, destroyed 1,400 buildings, and killed three people. Although it was a disaster, it also brought out the town’s extraordinary spirit, which helped citizens rebuild in less than 18 months. Paris boasts an extensive collection of post-Victorian architecture that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
6. The Scott Mansion
Visit the Scott Mansion, built between 1908 -1910, which survived the Great Fire of 1916. Originally home to Rufus F. Scott, Sr (1848-1932), today, the mansion is a funeral home with Art Nouveau and Dutch Renaissance styling.
7. Walking Tour Of Historic Downtown Paris
When you take the walking tour of downtown Paris, you’ll see the Plaza Theatre, home of the Paris Community Theatre, the Lamar County Courthouse two blocks north, and the tall white columns of the American Legion Building on NE 2nd. Explore four grand churches on Lamar Avenue and Church Street: the First United Methodist, First Baptist, Central Presbyterian, and Holy Cross Episcopal Church.
8. Lamar County Historical Society Museum
See local Paris history at the Lamar County Historical Museum at 1015 W. Kaufman, south of Heritage Hall. We explored the African American History Room, a pioneer kitchen, blacksmith shop, Baird cabin, military room, and other historical items, including a Paris photo taken before the 1916 fire.
9. Historic Homes Tour
- The Bailey-Ragland House, constructed in 1890, is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Atkinson-Morris House is a Stick-Eastlake, Queen Anne-style home that dates to 1875-1899.
- The Wise Fielding House and Carriage House is a Queen Anne style from 1875-1899.
- The Johnson-McCuistion House is a Classical Revival, time-period 1900-1924.
10. Paris Shopping Boutiques
Gypsy Chic is a fun fashion boutique. Girls Night Out Boutique, just off the square, is where style meets everything bling! Gifts From Above Boutique has clothes, shoes, jewelry, and home and gift items. Paris Baby has offered all things baby since 2008. Sassy Sisters PTX Boutique is where style has no size, and your wallet and self-esteem will love you. Find souvenirs from t-shirts to Eiffel towers and everything Paris at Paris Texas Gifts. Claudia At Liberty is a vintage home goods shop with very cool stuff. Spanglers, a Hallmark store, has everything from baby to 50th-anniversary gifts.
11. Trail De Paris
Trail De Paris is a six-mile paved trail from SE 8th Street east to the city limits, where it links to the Reno Rail Trail, giving you another five miles to explore. You’ll join runners, walkers, bikers, stroller-pushers, and leashed dogs (and their walkers) for sunshine and fresh air. Parking is available at the seven trailheads.
Pro Tip: Bring your bike attire and helmet. Rental bikes are available at the Love Civic Center.
12. Pump Track Paris
Paris has a top-notch pump track, a training facility for bikers, skateboarders, and scooter riders from pre-teens to adults. The Red Bull Pump Track World Championships will be hosted here in Spring 2021.
13. NETT, North East Texas Trail
The North East Texas Trail is an under-construction bike trail that will connect Farmersville through Paris to New Boston, totaling 133 miles. The area will become a state park once the development is complete.
14. Evergreen Cemetery
I love old cemeteries with antique markers. Evergreen Cemetery is the final resting place for 40,000 Paris, Texans, including gunfight victim D.H. Moore and John J. Culbertson, who has a mausoleum on the grounds. You’ll also find Willet Babcock’s towering marker, which looks like Jesus wearing cowboy boots. You’ll most likely meet the third-generation caretaker, who can direct you to the oldest grave in the cemetery and tell you some ghost stories, too.
15. Downtown Art Murals
Explore the downtown area to see vintage and modern murals featuring Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, Texaco, the cotton industry, and other Paris businesses.
16. April Main Street Winefest
Watch for dates for the Main Street Winefest coming in April. The ticketed event features at least 10 different wineries from across Texas with wine tastings and the option to purchase wine by the glass or bottle. Ten various eateries, food trucks, and restaurants from across northeast Texas offer bite-sized food samples with some menu items for sale. The proceeds help fund building improvements for revitalizing downtown.
17. Paris Vineyards Winery
Paris Vineyards Winery is open for tastings and retail purchases. Sample the Blanc Du Bois, Chardonnay, or De Vin Doux Rouge wines.
18. Eat Well
Jaxx Gourmet Burgers
Order the Onion Ring Tower — hand-battered with dipping sauce — and old-fashioned burgers like the Yo Steve Bacon Cheeseburger with grilled onions, jalapenos, and fried eggs, at Jaxx Gourmet Burgers. The Dr. Kevorkian is a double meat bacon cheeseburger between two grilled cheese sandwiches.
Pro Tip: I enjoyed the Mediterranean Burger with feta cheese, spinach, red onion, tomato, and Greek olive mayo. Choose from a wall of more than a dozen beers on tap.
Scholl Bros. Bar-B-Que
Scholl Bros. Bar-B-Que joint offers a blackboard menu of pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and sides, and has been voted best barbecue in town for nine consecutive years.
Pro Tip: Save room for pecan cobbler or banana pudding.
This artisan bakery in historic downtown Paris specializes in pastries and handmade artisan bread. Enjoy sandwiches, salads, soups, or the famous pizza on Saturday nights.
Pro Tip: Take advantage of the daily specials: sandwich, bread, soup, and dessert.
19. Enjoy A Memorable Stay
My favorite place to stay, The Old Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast historic home is for sale and closed for now, unfortunately. In light of that, I can recommend the following for your time in Paris.
The Emma Grace, In Nearby Cooper
Twenty-one miles southwest from Paris, find The Emma Grace bed and breakfast in the heart of Cooper. The Emma Grace is a community gathering place with a vintage building thoughtfully renovated, offering space for weddings, special occasions, and reunions. You’ll stay in one of seven roomy, spacious suites, with a farm-to-table homemade breakfast, a relaxing garden, and concierge services.
1st Street Lofts
After May 1, 2021, lodging at 1st Street Lofts is coming with four lofts complete with a kitchen and bathroom, a two-bedroom loft, a one-bedroom loft, and two efficiencies. The Cellar on 1st Street is coming for entertainment, and the 1stt Floor Experience will feature food, all with a taste of Paris.
Becky Semple, Tourism Director of the Paris Visitors and Convention Council, said: “Visitors continue to come to Paris just because we are Paris, and during their stay, they discover treasures and make lasting memories!” For more on Paris, visit paristexas.com. For more big Texas inspiration, consider: