"French Lick: The Hometown of Larry Bird" French Lick by Confucius

French Lick Travel Guide: 19 reviews and 29 photos

Where's the statue?

Here is Maple Street, the main business district of downtown French Lick. I didn't do much research before my trip and just assumed that I would see a statue of Larry Bird in the town square.
Yet there is no statue, and the welcome signs you see upon entering French Lick city limits do not mention the legendary basketball hero. In fact, the only visual evidence of Larry Bird you'll see by driving around is the street which was named after him in 1979.
What you will observe however is plenty of basketball courts, including one on Larry Bird Boulevard that belongs to the local school. South of the old French Liquors shop you will see a private green full length basketball court on the left side of the street. I stopped my rental car in the middle of the road and asked the two young men shooting around if Larry once played there and one shouted back that he actually taught the NBA Hall of Famer everything he knows!

How "French Lick" got its pleasant name

The funny name of this small town does make sense once you learn the history of the area. French traders started coming here in the mid-1700's and discovered mineral springs bubbling from the ground. At the same time, they noticed the abundance of wildlife that came here to lick the mineral deposits left on the ground and wet rocks. Those French traders thus called this special area "The Lick" because of the animal behavior they observed.
Based on this phenomena, the site of their trading post became known as "French Lick", and when a town later developed there a hundred years later it retained the old name given to it by early pioneers.

French Lick is a one and a half hour drive from Louisville, Kentucky, two and a half hours from Indianapolis, and 3 hours from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Amish Crossing: Beware of the buggies!

I took this photo through my car's windshield as I left French Lick and headed east toward the town of Paoli on Highway 150. Evidently the area surrounding Larry Bird's hometown has a few Amish settlements, as this sign warns automobiles to mind the occasional presence of horse and buggy traffic.
Unfortunately I did not encounter any Amish travellers during the ensuing 6 miles but the sight of this road sign was unusual enough to merit honorable mention on my French Lick page.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:It's the hometown of Larry Bird, the "Hick from French Lick"
  • Cons:Not much to do aside from photographing street signs
  • In a nutshell:Actual Population: 1941 (1,940 people + Larry Bird)
  • Last visit to French Lick: Apr 2006
  • Intro Updated Apr 13, 2006
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“Yes, I am indeed the same Confucius from Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Northeast Asia branch!”

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