Bastille Day (July 14th)

 

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Photograph by Hélène Loiré: http://aparisouailleurs.canalblog.com/

Celebrations for Le Quartorze de Juillet (14th of July), also commonly known as Bastille Day or La Fête Nationale, mark one of the major party events in Paris for the year.  It commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison and the French revolt against Louis XVI and the French monarchy.  These events ultimately led to years of “terror” with Marie-Antoinette, King Louis XVI, and thousands more associated with the Royal Court being led to the gallows at Place de la Concorde.  Irony is thus not lost on the fact that the parade on the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysées reaches the highpoint with President François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande and his guests sitting in the stands in the exact place where the Royal Family met their fate.

While the French celebrate the storming of the Bastille prison, it is more symbolic than a true military victory, given a mere seven prisoners were held at the prison at the time – most of whom were petty criminals, not political prisoners.  The “Declaration of the Rights of Man” were issued shortly after the raid, but the mystique of the “storming” of the Bastille prison stands  — as it symbolizes the freedom of the common citizen with the mantra “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” becoming enshrined figuratively and literally as part of the French psyche.  You will see the phrase Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité etched in stone on buildings, schools, just about everywhere in France.

Not surprisingly, manifestations (protests) remain a common fabric of French life, especially in Paris.  It is unusual not to get stuck in a traffic jam as protesters for this or that cause, with flags from this or that country (or communist flags if representing worker unions), jam the streets to engage in this ritual.  Protesters take to the streets for causes ranging from ensuring vacation days are not cut (the minimum 25 mandatory vacation days is not enough), to protecting wages (hazardous pay for exposure to coal for metro workers, a “hazard” that has not existed for decades, continues to be paid as part of the SNCF wage).

The celebrations actually begin on July 13th, with the Bal des Pompiers (Fireman’s Ball) being held at the local stations with les pompiers decked out in full uniform.  Women should love these events, as les pompiers are typically attractive, young, fit, French men.  The pompiers near our apartment are always running, doing sit-ups and other exercises when they are not fighting fires.  So it was no surprise that when we my son got stuck in our apartment elevator and we called les pompiers to help, the person most excited to see them was my wife….

You can celebrate Bastille Day as follows:

Les Bal des Pompiers: Various events take place including music, DJs, drinks, and even a firemen striptease! Most of the entrances are free, but donations are highly recommended upon arrival.  A listing of balls includes the following, by Arrondissement, is below, with a complete listing here:

26, rue de Chaligny – 75012 PARIS
On july 13 and 14

37, boulevard Masséna – 75013 PARIS
On july 13 and 14

 11, rue du Vieux Colombier 75006 PARIS
On july 13 and 14

6, Place Violet – 75015 PARIS
On july 13 and 14

28, rue Blanche – 75009 PARIS
On july 13
 
21, rue du Jour
- 75001 PARIS
On july 13 and 14

 12, rue Carpeaux – 75018 PARIS
On july 13

 27, rue Boursault – 75017 PARIS
On july 13

 188, quai de
Valmy – 75010 PARIS
On july 13 and 14

 2, place de Bitche – 75019 PARIS
On july 13

 07-09, rue de Sévigné – 75004 PARIS
On july 13 and 14

Bals pompiers 333_250 47, rue Saint-Fargeau – 75020 PARIS
On july 13

 53-55, boulevard Port-Royal 75013 PARIS
On july 13 and 14

Arènes de Lutèce, 4 rue Monge – 75005 PARIS
On july 13

 75, bld Gallieni – 92130 Issy-Les-Moulineaux
On july 13 and 14

 55 – 57, rue Gallieni – 92100 Boulogne
On july 13

Marché couvert, place de la liberté – 92500 La
Garenne Colombes
On july 13

 234, avenue de Victor Hugo -b 32140 Clamart
On july 13

 2, avenue Armand Guillebaud – 92160
Antony
On july 13

Parade & Fly-Over: The oldest and longest parade in all of Europe occurs with a traditional march of France’s various military regiments from multiple territories, including French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, Réunion, and the military schools.  The parade marches down Avenue des Champs-Elysées starting at the L’Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde from 10-1200, with a fly-over at approximately 10h00.

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.Fireworks:  Go to Place du Trocadéro for the best view of the main event over the Eiffel Tower at 10:45 p.m.  There will be a concert at the Eiffel Tower beginning at 18:00 until 10:40.  Cafés and bars are near the area, but also throughout the city will be packed, humming into the early morning.  Fireworks commence around nightfall at 22h45.  This year’s them is disco of the 70s.

 

 

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Party Venues: Restaurants and bars all through the city will be crowded, but especially near Avenue des Champs-Elysées and Place de la Concorde.  Try, if you can, to go to include La Perla, Le Fumoir, Onze Bar near Belleville, Café Oz, Café Bonnie, and The Long Hop.  Another hopping place will be in the Latin Quarter and Saint Michel, near rue de la Huchette.

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 16, 2012 at 12:21 am | Permalink

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