Celebrating 225 Years! What do you have planned?

Today is my sixth Bastille Day (or as the French call it, “la Fête du Quatorze Juillet” or “la Fête Nationale“) on French soil. Although it’s a big anniversary — the French are celebrating 225 years of no more Bastille — I sort of missed out on the fireworks last night. I had bailed on a dinner/fireworks-viewing party earlier in the day because I was feeling under the weather, and our apartment in La Courneuve offered a less than optimal vantage point for the municipal fireworks display. I could still hear them, though, as well as all the fire crackers being tossed in the street below my window! There have been other events, of course, including the big parade down the Champs Élysées this morning, but we didn’t watch that either. The only thing we have planned, in fact, is a long walk in a park to get some exercise and fresh air. It seems like catching the French air force’s practice flights over Le Bourget yesterday afternoon is about as festive as it’s going to get for us this year …

This year’s low-key Bastille Day stands in marked contrast to last year’s over-the-top celebration, when we participated in one of Paris’s great July 14 traditions: a firemen’s ball. I suppose I can allow myself to drink and dance like that only one time every couple of years. The year before that, we didn’t do anything especially festive either; I shifted into history nerd mode and wrote a long (but extremely interesting) article about the history of Bastille Day. As a matter of fact, 2011 was the only year when I actually went out for the express purpose of watching Paris’s famed firework display. It was an impressive event even though we had apparently chosen the wrong bridge as our vantage point, and the spectacle helped me resolve the conundrum of how to wish my French family and friends a “Happy Bastille Day”! Before that was 2010, when we were in Washington celebrating the holiday with American friends and French hors d’œuvres on the rooftop deck of my apartment building, and 2009 when, by chance, we caught a glimpse of the fireworks while heading home from a picnic with friends. My very first Bastille Day on French soil, though, was even less exciting than this year’s, if you can imagine that: I was hanging out in the terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport en route to the US after a vacation in the South of France. Vive la Révol … um, vivent les security lines! Maybe next year we’ll do something really remarkable like climbing the Eiffel Tower to watch the fireworks or taking a dinner cruise on the Seine for a breathtaking view from an entirely different angle.

Here are a few pics from Bastille Days gone-by. Click on the image to access the related article.

2013: Full-on French mosh pit mode …

2012: Full-on French history nerd mode …

2011: Full-on fireworks mode …

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 12.13.33 PM

2010: Full-on “French food” mode …
(Sorry, there’s no article for this one. There should be, huh?)


2009: Full-on “good timing” mode …
(Sorry again. There’s no article for this one, either, but yes,
that is Michael Jackson blaring in the background.)

2007: Full-on frequent flyer mode …
(Once again, no article.)


No matter how you’re commemorating Bastille Day this year, whether it’s watching a thunderous fireworks display, dancing your booty off at a firemen’s ball, hosting a (relatively) quiet dinner party, taking a rejuvenating walk in the park, waiting endlessly for a delayed flight … or even competing in a French maid relay race (no kidding!) … have fun and remember …

Vive la Révolution! Vive la République! Vive la France!

© 2014 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

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