With over 10 million Americans of French heritage and a history dating to Colonial times, the French influence on the U.S. is vast. Twenty U.S. states, including Louisiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and others, include land once claimed by French pioneers, colonized as the French colony of New France, and then purchased by the U.S. from France in 1803. The best known U.S. city of French heritage is New Orleans, Louisiana, with its world famous Mardi Gras (above) and its picturesque French Quarter.
Today, New Englanders of French heritage are known as Acadian, after a region of French Canada, while those of Louisiana use the popularized term Cajuns. Both areas host wonderful festivals to showcase French American culture, as do several other communities with a strong French heritage.
French cloisters have served as an almost mystically beautiful escape from the world for centuries. You can experience an authentic one, carried across an ocean and recreated stone-by-stone, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Cloisters, nestled at the edge of New York City's Central Park.