How to have a Parisian good time — in Tulsa!
You know what they say, Tulsa is the Paris of Oklahoma...
With “An American in Paris” making its Tulsa debut, I am suddenly very nostalgic for the City of Light (although, TBH, I don’t think I’m ever NOT nostalgic for Paris). And unfortunately, most of us can’t just hop on a plane to France whenever the fancy strikes. So, here’s my much-more-affordable guide to capturing that la vie Parisienne right here in Tulsa.
Want to climb the steps of Sacré-Cœur, or marvel at the beauty of Notre Dame? Get your holy fix at the newly named Cathedral District in Downtown Tulsa.
Like Sacré-Cœur (which wasn’t completed until 1914), Boston Avenue United Methodist Church is a unique architectural marvel built in the 20th century. But unlike its Romano-Byzantine counterpart, Boston Avenue takes interpretive architecture in a totally different direction: art deco. Completed in 1929, the church is considered to be one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical art deco architecture in the United States. And although Sacré-Cœur’s situation atop a hill adds to its scale and grandeur, the building itself is not much taller than Boston Avenue — 272 feet, versus 255 feet. The top floor of the BA tower is a small prayer chapel, so don’t miss the opportunity to see that. For the full Parisian experience, take the stairs.
Guided tours of the building are given every Sunday at noon, beginning in the church library on the second floor. Guided tours can also be arranged during the week by calling 918-583-5181 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Self-guided tours are also available any time the building is open. The church is located at 1301 South Boston Avenue.
Craving a more Catholic experience? Just down the street, pay a visit to the Neoclassical/Gothic Revival Holy Family Cathedral, 810 South Boulder Avenue. Finished in the same year as the Sacré-Cœur, this truly grand church was the tallest building in Tulsa until the Mayo Hotel came along in 1923.
Another gorgeous Gothic Revival in the area is the First United Methodist Church, 1115 S. Boulder Ave. Its distinctive two-spire structure was dedicated in 1928, but the construction of the building harkens back to the great medieval cathedrals of Europe.
Another Gothic-style church, First Presbyterian at 709 S. Boston Ave., was completed around the same time. A quick walk through the Cathedral District makes it very easy to forget you’re in Tulsa — it’s an entirely different world, replete with spires and stained glass and grandeur. Magnifique!
Craving croissant? Get thee to a boulangerie.
In Paris there’s a bakery on every corner, it seems, but that will never stop me from wanting to try out every last one. But you needed cross an ocean to get an authentic éclair — you just need to take a quick jaunt to South Tulsa.
Located at 6333 E 120th Ct, Saint Amon Baking Co. is a Francophile foodie dream. The pastry chefs are husband-and-wife team Sarah and Jean-Baptiste Saint Amon, the perfect marriage of French and Tulsan taste. Everything they bake is authentically French, but made with local ingredients (and no preservatives or chemicals).
The star and staple of the bakery case might just be the croissants, carefully and painstakingly folded to perfection, with just enough brown sugar to create a golden, glorious crust. Our distribution manager Amanda Hall also swears that their cheesecake is the best she’s ever had. La vie est courte, so I say order both.
Love the Musee D’Orsay? You’ll adore the Philbrook!
The midtown museum’s latest exhibition, Innovative Impressions, explores the careers of three Impressionist artists whose works are famously displayed at D’Orsay: Mary Cassat, Edgar Degas and Camille Pisarro. But right here in Tulsa, you’ll get a look at these legends you won’t get anywhere else. Though known primarily as painters, these artists also experimented with the medium of print. Innovative Impressions highlights the groundbreaking printmaking techniques practiced by these artists who learned from each other while developing very different bodies of work.
Love the famous chocolat chaud at Angelina’s? Try the Mexican Hot Cocoa at Shades of Brown.
Like its French counterpart, this hot beverage is very rich and not too sweet — but it packs a distinctly spicy Mezzo-American flair, courtesy of the cayenne pepper. You’ll be sweating under your wool beret with this one.
Other local standouts include the hot chocolate at CHOCS and Fair Fellow.
Love seeing the city from atop the Arc du Triomphe? Enjoy the panoramic views from the Mayo Hotel Penthouse Bar.
Ok, so maybe there aren’t twelve tree-lined avenues radiating from our downtown viewpoint, but the vantage is certainly stunning in its own way, and it allows a full perspective of downtown geography that’s hard to beat. Plus, you get to be up high and up close to our own art deco skyscrapers. Just put on something slinky, order a strong cocktail from the bar, then stroll to the railing to survey the glimmering city below — la vie est belle, no?
Get that Montmarte vibe in the Tulsa Arts District.
Today, the historical haunt of bohemians and artists is becoming increasingly expensive and tourist-centered. But there’s just something about wandering an arts district, peering into galleries, stopping at cafes, people watching... you can chase this quintessential Parisian feeling in the Tulsa Arts District, especially during First Friday, where artists fill not only the bars and galleries but the sidewalks, too. Just keep an eye out for la voleur à la tire in the crowds...
Be transported to post-war Paris through the magic of theater.
As much as I love the Tulsa PAC, it’s admittedly no Palais Garnier, whose spectacular opulence serves as the setting for the novel (and subsequent musical) “The Phantom of the Opera.” Despite its more modest, utilitarian appearance, the PAC still plays host to world-class performances. Tonight through Sunday, you can see the Tony-award winning “An American in Paris,” presented by Celebrity Attractions. Tickets start at just $29, which is much cheaper than an actual ticket to Paris, plus there’s singing and dancing and music.
Now, I wonder if I can sneak a croissant from Saint Amon into the theater...