Closest Major City: Nashville, Tenn. (115 miles)
Story Behind the Name: In 1823, a county commissioner suggested calling the young town “Lafayette” in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general who became a hero in the American Revolutionary War. Uncertain about the proper spelling of his name, the town opted for “Paris” instead.
Most Famous Resident: U.S. Rep. John Wesley Crockett, Davy’s eldest son, called Paris home in the 19th century. Tony- and Emmy-winning actress Cherry Jones of Fox’s 24 also grew up here.
Must-See Attraction: Eiffel Tower Park features the town’s icon — a 60-foot, steel Eiffel Tower replica.
Must-Do Annual Event: Originally called “Mule Day” in the 1930s, Paris’ most famous happening is the World’s Biggest Fish Fry. Held over several days during the final week of April, the celebration includes a carnival, street dancing and demolition derbies. During last year’s 60th anniversary of the event, five tons of catfish were served.
Local Testimonial: “We’re a quality small town that’s an easy day-trip from Nashville or Memphis — but you’ll want to stay here longer.” —Galia Greer, administrative assistant, Henry County Alliance
Best Euro-Tribute (Besides the Name): Honored residents receive “Marquis” status. “It’s our version of the key to the city,” Greer says.
NOW YOU KNOW: The real Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, stands at 1,063 feet, more than 1,000 feet taller than the replica in Paris, Tenn.
Closest Major City: St. Louis (50 miles)
Story Behind the Name: In 1852, the community’s first pastor, John Moliter, who was of Belgian descent, died just three months after arriving here. His German congregation paid tribute by naming their village after his hometown, Brussels.
Most Famous Resident: 1930s St. Louis Cardinals pitcher William “Fiddler Bill” McGee grew up nine miles away in Batchtown.
Must-See Attraction: Brussels Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places and includes several restored buildings dating back to the early 1800s. Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge (a few miles away) hosts one of the largest wintering populations of bald eagles in the Lower 48.
Must-Do Annual Event: The river-flanked farmland of Calhoun County occupies one of the Midwest’s sweetest fruit belts. Come for the famous Calhoun peaches in August and the Jonathan, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious apples in September and October. Pick and choose at numerous county orchards and roadside stands.
Local Testimonial: “This is probably the most scenic county within a 40-mile radius of St. Louis, until you get down into the Ozarks. And the village of Brussels itself looks much the same as when I went to grade school here — and I’ve been retired for over 20 years.” —Dale Hagen; Alton, Ill., Convention and Visitors Bureau board member and a fifth-generation local
Best Euro-Tribute (Besides the Name): Brussels’ Rhineland-inspired street names include Fuhler, Krausel, Poppe and Hoemmen lanes.
BARCELONA, NEW YORK
Population: Approximately 200
Closest Major City: Buffalo, N.Y. (60 miles)
Story Behind the Name: Originally called Portland Harbor, the isolated Lake Erie fishing hamlet was renamed Barcelona in 1836 by Isaac S. Smith, a local businessman, upon his return home from a trip to Spain.
Most Famous Resident: Grace Bedell. In 1860, the 11-year-old resident of Westfield (Barcelona’s parent town) famously — and successfully — sent Abraham Lincoln a letter urging him to grow a beard to improve his appearance and chances of winning the election. A statue of Bedell meeting Lincoln (in 1861) stands in the center of Westfield.
Must-See Attraction: Barcelona Lighthouse. Constructed in 1829, the community’s 40-foot landmark was the world’s first lighthouse to be powered by natural gas.
Must-Do Annual Event: Annual Westfield Exempt Firemen’s Association Ox Roast. The area’s biggest, longest-running annual reunion gathers in Ottaway Park on the second Sunday in July for music, games and roast-beef sandwiches, courtesy of the local volunteer fire department. Visitors welcome.
Local Testimonial: “We’re just a nice, quiet little place all by ourself on a big lake. That’s what it was like way back when I was growing up here, and that part of Barcelona hasn’t much changed.” —Judy Hess, founder of the Barcelona Commercial Fishermen’s Museum
Best Euro-Tribute (Besides the Name): a Mediterranean salad at ZeBro’s Harbor House, Barcelona’s best (and only) upscale restaurant
JORDAN RANE writes regularly for American Way and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in L.A., but he grew up in Toronto, just two hours from London (Ontario).