Chinese Tourists Drawn to French Town's History The 1949 Chinese communist revolution rarely brings to mind provincial France. But a tiny French town south of Paris played a key role in fomenting that revolution, and now the town is trying to capitalize on its communist link by luring Chinese tourists.

Chinese Tourists Drawn to French Town's History

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JOHN YDSTIE, Host:

Eleanor Beardsley reports.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Peiwen Wang, who is head of the Montargis Chinese-French Friendship Association, is leading a group of Chinese civil servants on a walking tour of the town. They stopped in front of a plaque in a park where it is said that some of the young idealists wrote their first revolutionary poems.

PEIWEN WANG: (Through translator) At that time, every month a hundred or so Chinese students came here. It was a big important wave. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping came, and they and others then went back to China and founded the new China. That's why we say that Montargis is the cradle of the new China.

BEARDSLEY: Wu Hao, the leader of the delegation, said that it's an emotional visit for the group.

WU HAO: (Through translator) These are famous people for us, pioneers who came here and then tried to save China in its difficult period. And I think they'd be very happy today because we have always followed the path they forged. And China has developed like they would have wanted.

BEARDSLEY: One common point is cuisine. And no French or Chinese tour would be complete without a dining experience. As the tourists head into Brasserie de la Poste, restaurateur Erve Pascia(ph) says he has prepared a special meal for the group.

ERVE PASCIA: (Through translator) We know they like sweet things and we have put together a special menu for them to discover our original dishes, but we have adapted it to Chinese tastes.

BEARDSLEY: After a brief lesson from Wang on the proper way to use the forks and knives, the group digs into an appetizer of foie gras followed by roast duck glazed with the local honey. As he tips back a glass of red wine, Wu Hao explains his approval of French cuisine.

HAO: Fantastic. Very marvelous. Just like Chinese food. I think that in the Western countries, the French food is the best. And in the Eastern countries, the Chinese food is the best.

BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Montargis, France.

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