Even though Louisville has an Irish and German heritage, there has always been a strong French influence in the city.
1. The namesake. Of all French kings named Louis, Louisville is named after the unfortunate Louis XVI, in honor of his aid in the American Revolution. The husband of Marie-Antoinette was guillotined in the French Revolution. The statue of Louis XVI pictured above stands downtown, outside Metro Hall. For a complete history of the statue, go here. Luckily, it made it across the ocean head still intact!
A fun fact for non-francophones: "ville" means "city" or "town." So, Louisville roughly means "the city of Louis."
2. The fleur-de-lys. (Also spelled "fleur-de-lis"). This stylized "lily flower" is the symbol of Louisville, New Orleans, Quebec, Paris, and many other places worldwide. The fleur-de-lis has been associated with the French nobility since the start of its Christian monarchy. It is still the emblem of the Bourbon family, the royal house of King Louis XVI.
Louisville Metro's official seal.
3. Speaking of Bourbon… The name of this great Kentucky beverage comes from the House of Bourbon, the royal French family. It is disputed whether the drink name came from the Kentucky county or the New Orleans street, but ultimately the name of all three is a reference to the Bourbon dynasty.
Above: Sign post in downtown Louisville.
Below: Plaque in Montpellier, France.
5.The East End Bridge. The East End bridge project is led in part by Vinci, a French concessions and construction company. For those of you doubting that a stereotypical French work ethic will help the project, rest assured. It is financially one of the most successful construction companies in the world.