Much like our 4th of July isn’t commonly called “Independence Day” the French don’t refer to Quatorze Juliet as “Bastille Day” – it has too much baggage and while the French Revolution was founded in great principles (you know that whole Liberty, Brotherhood, and Equality thing) it did disintegrate into anarchy and vast bloodshed. Anyway, we decided to celebrate in true Parisian style, parade in the morning, good food, and fireworks and ice cream at night. Does that remind you of another distinctly American holiday? Yes, Quatorze Juliet and the 4th of July appear to be very similar. So we dragged our tired bodies out of bed to make it down to the parade – which was supposed to be amazing. Walking through the city before the parade it had that same quiet holiday feel you have all felt in the States. It’s more quiet than usual but there is also a subtle change in the air, a light electricity of anticipation, a sense that things are different just for today. I love that feeling. So we walked through the quiet streets and took the Metro to the Place de Concorde where the parade was going to end up. Well there were a lot of barricades, gendarmeries, police and other people.
We managed to score a spot on the edge of a window that allowed us to see over some people’s heads. And then it got more crowded and suddenly there were four more people on our ledge. And then people started holding their cameras up to take pictures. And kids started scrambling onto their dads’ shoulders. It was really a great testament to how much fathers love their kids because we were surrounded by sweaty fathers who couldn’t see the parade themselves but remained standing there with their son or daughter perched on their shoulders so the kids could see.
The parade was different from our traditional American parades. It was various outfits of soldiers from France and India marching in their units. There were some military vehicles as well. Some units of soldiers sang their company anthems.
But it was hot. And crowded. And sweaty. And we were hungry and in need of coffee. And basically after about 90 minutes this is how we felt:
So we walked around a little. Saw some beautiful churches, had an amazing breakfast, saw part of an arial exhibition that involved parachuters, walked past the Arab World Institute, walked up to Bastille and saw the monument commemorating the barricade made famous by Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, basically just spent some time exploring.
We also saw several women making really awkward poses for cameras. Awkward in that they looked like the poses you see in 1980s and early ’90s glamour shots. And their husbands/boyfriends somehow always mess up in taking the photo which resulted in pouty faces and exasperated sighs and the poor sap having to take multiple pictures of these bizarre women. Being the mature and thoughtful people that we are we naturally had to make fun of them by striking our own ridiculous poses.
Anyway. The highlight of the evening was yet another picnic on the Seine followed by the amazing fireworks. They actually shoot fireworks off of the Eiffel tower. It’s pretty darn cool.
All of the fireworks photos were taken by Scotty and I think he did a really nice job. Taking pictures of fireworks at a distance is tres dificile and I think he was able to capture quite a lot. Following fireworks Scotty and I had some of our favorite gelato. It was the perfect ending to a great celebratory day.