American Friends of French Culture

What do Versailles, the National Library of France in Paris and the Reims Cathedral have in common? All three owe their revival to American patrons. The passion of these philanthropists is vital to safeguarding France’s heritage and its soft-power influence in America. From Rockefeller to McDonald’s, we look back on a century of American patronage.

“France has it all, except money. If my contribution can help this country maintain its soft power in the world, I would be pleased. All it takes is a trip to France to visit châteaux, vineyards, and historic cities to be tempted to give everything to this country”, explains Mark, a donor, who could speak for hours about French heritage. “Let me have two more glasses of Bordeaux and I will tell you the story of Versailles and Postman Cheval’s Palace!” Mark is one of the hundreds of guests present — thanks to a $650 donation — at the UN headquarters in New York on April 30 for a fundraising evening benefiting La Cité des civilisations du vin. This museum of wine history, which will open in Bordeaux in


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