French NYC residents fight for city to have a ‘Little Paris’ downtown

They’re on the merci of the neighborhood.

Two French expats are combating to rename a Nolita block “Little Paris Street” forward of Bastille Day on July 14.

Cousins Marianne and Léa Perret, who based Coucou — a cultural middle that provides French lessons and workshops and hosts events for Francophiles — are petitioning to get the part of Centre Street between Broome and Grand streets the stylish, new designation.

“Northwest of Little Italy is a hub of French businesses — boutiques, cafes, restaurants. And yet real estate agents have named the area ‘NOLITA,’ or, ‘North of Little Italy,’ ” reads the petition, which has garnered 600 signatures to this point.

And in order that they’re plastering the world with dark-blue-and-green enamel road indicators, custom-made in France, to promote their trigger. The cousins, who each reside in Bushwick, mentioned the signage took a month to make — and Léa shelled out $2,000 from her personal pocket for them.

There are smaller ones for planters, in addition to bigger ones affixed to the facades of “enthusiastic” close by companies.

Léa Perret, co-founder of Coucou French Classes
Léa Perret, co-founder of Coucou French Classes, is placing up custom-made indicators throughout her Nolita nabe.
Stefano Giovannini

They argue that the world has a sturdy French connection: In addition to historic ties to French tradition relationship again to the Revolutionary War, it’s at the moment the epicenter of about a dozen or so French-owned neighborhood companies, together with Maman cafe, Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels wine bar and a fashionable artwork gallery and store referred to as Clic.

While their quick purpose is to rename the road, the cousins hope to sooner or later rebrand Nolita “Little Paris.”

Léa, 35, initially from Toulouse, France, advised The Post that “Nolita” is “not doing the neighborhood justice.”

Map of proposed “Little Paris Street,” awash in French-owned companies.
Credit: Coucou French Classes

“We don’t want to take away from the importance of the Italian-American community, but the French were always there from the beginning,” mentioned Marianne, 34, a native of Paris. “We’re not taking on their territory — we just want to be recognized.”

Marianne began to analysis the historical past of the world, noting a historic “Little France” or “Quartier Francais” in Soho from the 1870s to Eighteen Nineties, simply west of Coucou. Nearby, a hill often known as Bayard’s Mount — named after French-American banker and Alexander Hamilton pal William Bayard — served as a fort during the Revolutionary War.

She additionally factors to the imposing former police headquarters at 240 Centre St., now a luxurious co-op. Modeled after Paris’ Hôtel de Ville, its arresting Beaux Arts model is a love letter to Parisian structure. 

“All these interesting details fueled our case,” mentioned Marianne.

Léa advised The Post that Community Board 2 requested the ladies to produce a petition from residents — not simply companies — however didn’t give an actual quantity for required signatures.

The City Council, which oversees road renamings, didn’t reply to The Post’s request for remark.

Montrealer Elisa Marshall, who has run Maman cafe along with her French expat husband Ben Sormonte on Centre Street since 2014, backs the road renaming push.

Maman owners Elisa Marshall and Ben Sormonte
Maman homeowners Elisa Marshall and Ben Sormonte say the city deserves an official “French pocket.”
Stefano Giovannini

“The vibe of that little section, with the beauty of the police building, the trees and the hub of French businesses, you don’t feel like you’re in NYC — it feels like you escaped to Paris,” she mentioned.

She mused that Little Italy and Chinatown have their very own distinct spots, “but there’s no French pocket. Having it recognized as Little Paris makes it more special, with that additional allure for customers and business owners.”

Like the Statue of Liberty, supporters hope “Little Paris” turns into a image of excellent will between the 2 nations.

Léa Perret at a French cafe on Centre Street.
Léa Perret and her cousin try to get a stretch of Centre Street in Nolita co-named Little Paris Street.
Stefano Giovannini

“The connection between Paris and New York is so strong — the two cities have so much respect for each other,” mentioned Marianne. “There’s a long love story between New Yorkers and French. But there’s not a place yet that’s clearly defined.”

And she doesn’t count on a tradition warfare — or a meals fight — with their Italian neighbors: “Unless we have a cheese-off.”

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