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Texas is Francophile-friendly! Bastille Day!

Texas and the French connection.

Bonjour, mon ami — it’s Bastille Day! That’s right. With a slight twist of fate here and there, Texans could be speaking French right now, mon chéri!

Without going into a 17th and 18th century history lesson, let’s discuss some very interesting Texas-French factoids.

  • France was the first European country to recognize the fledgling Republic of Texas in September 1839. The first foreign consulate located in Texas was the French Legation in Austin, where it remains today as the oldest frame building in the city under the auspices of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
  • One cannot help but notice the similarities in flag colors of Texas and France. Both the French Tricolor and the Lone Star have the red, white and bleu.
  • Both countries — Texas is known as a “whole other country” — produce fantastic wines and the citizens of both enjoy imbibing of their products.
  • Our climate is remarkably similar to Provence. Famous for their lavender, herbs and citrus, Central and South Texas can make strong cases for the same plants. Here is a petite palette of herbs and plants that can be grown here and there: lavender, thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, salvia, iris, bougainvillea, roses, sago palms, pomegranates, oleander, and many trees including lemon, orange, European olive, laurel bay, Italian cypress, Juniper spp., Aleppo pine, Italian stone pine and oak.

Still need more convincing? Central France has a lot of brushy, thorny, impenetrable vegetation called maquis. Hmm… sounds a wee bit familiar.

Alas, there is one product we do not share — truffles. While I was with the Texas Forest Service, many attempts by locals and foreign visionaries to produce truffles in Central Texas have failed, and failed miserably. But we used to say that about olives…

Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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