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Paris: Cross-Cultural Connections

Paris is one of the world’s great capital cities. Throughout its glorious history, the city has been at the forefront of scientific progress, intellectual thinking and artistic innovation.

There has long been an exchange of ideas flowing back and forth across the English Channel, with Paris being a near neighbour and rival to London. As we release the third coin in our collection dedicated to city views, we explore the fascinating connection between Paris and the UK.

The Grand Tour

Paris was the first major stopping point on the Grand Tour, a rite of passage for young British noblemen who ventured to the great cities of Europe to broaden their horizons. Travelling from London to Paris took several days and typically involved crossing the English Channel between Dover and Calais, a hazardous journey that sometimes resulted in being shipwrecked. Considered by many to be Europe’s most impressive city, Paris became the destination for these aristocratic visitors who would spend several months immersed in Parisian culture before moving on to Italy either by boat across the Mediterranean or overland through the Alps. The French Revolution that began in 1789 put an end to the Grand Tour before railways enabled the development of mass tourism. Today, travellers can board the Eurostar at St Pancras station in London and travel directly by train to the Gare du Nord in Paris via the Channel Tunnel in just a few hours.

City Views Rome

An Exchange of Ideas

Parisian fashion has long influenced Britain, and intellectually there has also been a healthy exchange of ideas. The French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher François-Marie Arouet (1694–1778), better known by the pseudonym Voltaire, began a period of self-imposed exile in London in 1726. During his time in the city, he learned English and mixed with leading political and literary figures of the day such as the author Jonathan Swift and poet and satirist Alexander Pope. Voltaire was a poet first and foremost, but his exposure to books such as Swift’s newly published Gulliver’s Travels, encouraged him to write more in prose.

City Views Rome

Entente Cordiale

After a long period of historic rivalry, Britain and France put historic differences aside by signing the Entente Cordiale in 1904. These agreements resolved a series of colonial disputes that had developed as a result of the scramble for empire and ushered in a new period of collaboration that remains part of the two nations’ diplomatic policy today. In 2004, the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale was marked by a series of official celebrations, including a commemorative £5 coin. Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II travelled to France on a state visit, whilst British troops led the annual Bastille Day parade in Paris for the first time.

City Views Rome

The Paris coin is the third coin in the City Views collection, joining coins honouring the cities of Rome and London respectively. Explore the collection now and discover these incredibly detailed and scenic designs for yourself.



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