It is true! I have 4th of July envy. Once again, I was not on American soil for the 4th. I love this holiday (BBQ’s, family gatherings, celebrating our country, and yay for fireworks). Last year, we left NYC on the 3rd of July and headed for Paris. And now I find myself here once again sans the American spirit. I still received photo updates and phone calls of family and friends sharing their Independance Day fiestas, while here in Paris, it was just another day.
Although last year we missed the American festivities on July 4th, we discovered how the French party it up on July 14th, Le Quatorze Juillet, commonly known as Bastille Day (French Independence Day). In the same celebratory spirit, the French remember the storming of the Bastille, a famous prison, during the French Revolution in 1789. With the taking of this prison, the movement to replace a two-person government with a representative government began.
The day was quite exciting for both Charles and I. Lots of families, parades, picnics, food, and of course fireworks! By 10am, we were packed shoulder to shoulder along the Champs-Elysees for a glimpse of the parade. I have never experienced a parade like this one. There were no floats, dancers, marching bands, or clowns, only rows and rows military marching down the breezy boulevard. They rode horses, military vehicles, and marched on foot. The site was quite spectacular and intense. The streets were lined with thousands of people trying to get a glimpse of the president and his troops. Fortunately, families with children were able to cross the first set of barricades and get a better view of the street, where many children stood wide-eyed at the spectacle. Yet, the highlight was above us, as a colorful aerial show impressed the anxious crowd.
Later that night, bedtimes were ignored and families flocked to the Seine to see the fireworks launched from the Trocadero and set to beautiful Opera arias. The fireworks were spectacular exploding next to the glowing Eiffel Tower. Walking home that night, I realized the French truly know how to party it up as well!
This year we will not be here for 14th of July (we will be back in NYC), so I will miss both Independence days. Sadly, no parades, yummy food, family fun or fireworks for me this July. As far as which one I prefer….of course, my nostalgic memories and love for American tradition votes for the 4th of July, but I now see that the French know how to celebrate their country as well!
Happy Independence Day!