Click on the above image to go to Jefferson Walking Tours in Paris
Welcome to Jefferson in Paris
NEW: Timeline of Jefferson's Stay in Paris To go to the page, click on the picture on the right. It is a photograph of one of Jefferson's letters to Maria Cosway, an English painter and musician with whom he became infatuated in 1786. A larger reproduction of this letter as well as other letters can be found on the Library of Congress website page identified at the beginning of the timeline.
Jefferson's letter to his Paris love, Maria Cosway
There were two reasons Thomas Jefferson was sent to Paris in 1784. First, his beloved wife had just died after childbirth and his friends feared that he was so distraught that his health and career might be permanently damaged; a strong change of place was what he needed. Second, Benjamin Franklin who had marvelously represented the new United States in France was old and becoming more frail, there was much business to be done concerning such matters as following up on the peace treaty with England, the 1793 Treaty of Paris, dealing with North African pirates and French loans to the United States. John Adams, who was never the most popular American in Paris was leaving his work with the finished Treaty of Paris to represent the United States in London. Whoever decided that Jefferson should go to Paris made the correct decision. He became immensely popular in that sophisticated city and, despite a dangerous love affair and bouts of ill health, including migraines, his scientific knowledge, mastery of foreign affairs and intellectual sophistication greatly benefited from his years in France.
Click on this image to go to an interactive map of Jefferson's Paris
This website will take you the Paris of 1784-1789 when Thomas Jefferson was the American Ambassador to the Court of Versailles. Jefferson knew all the powerful people including King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, since he often needed to appear at ministers' offices at the Palace of Versailles. French fashion, French music and French theater became well known to Jefferson. He also learned a great deal about French wines from the Loire region and he especially enjoyed the wines of Bordeaux. Soon after they arrived in Paris, Jefferson placed his daughter Martha (the same name as her mother), known as Patsy, in the most exclusive school for young girls, the Abbaye de Panthemont, which one can still visit. She was fourteen years old when she arrived, learned French quickly and associated with young French princesses, English girls and French girls at her school. This site offers a sampling descriptions of what Thomas Jefferson saw and experienced in Paris in the eighteenth century, emphasizing especially how visitors to Paris can follow in Jefferson's footsteps and look at many of the same buildings and landscapes that our third president saw in eighteenth century Paris.
Click the image to go to the 18th century music page.
Click this image to go to the Carnavalet Museum page