IF YOU HAVEN’T HAD ENOUGH CELEBRATING YET THIS SUMMER, BE HAPPY. July 14th is Bastille Day, often thought of as the French day of independence, and a wonderful time for Americans across the country to share in some real Gallic pride and merriment with our cousins across the ocean. Don’t do it with hot dogs and sauerkraut, though. This is strictly a day for ritzy repasts, like coq au vin or chateaubriand.
Bastille Day is so named because on that day in 1789 the people of France rose up against the existing monarchy and stormed the Bastille, the fortress-prison in Paris. A large amount of ammunition and gunpowder was kept in the Bastille. In addition, it housed numerous political prisoners who had been arbitrarily imprisoned by the King.
Its storming is often thought of as the start of the French Revolution, a dramatic act of rebellion, and a rally point for the French.
–It is an interesting point that the Bastille only held 7 prisoners the day it was stormed, and none of them were political. Oh well, it didn’t take away from the significance of the act!
Bastille Day is called Fete Nationale (National Celebration) in France. The famed Champs Elysees is decorated with flags, and many petty offenders are given pardons by the President. Throughout the country, great celebrations are held, not unlike our own Fourth of July.
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. This was the motto of the French Revolution. Its colors: Red, White, and Blue. Its impact was felt throughout Europe, most especially in Britain, where it dramatically influenced British intellectual, philosophical, and political life. Here in the United States, its effect was no less monumental.
Still…why care about all of this? Well, to start with, the French have had a dramatic effect on American history. Without their assistance we wouldn’t have been able to win the Revolutionary War. And Louisiana was founded by the French, as was the spectacular City of New Orleans. Benjamin Franklin, often regarded, along with Thomas Jefferson, as the main force behind the creation of our nation, adored the French and was strongly influenced by them.
— Besides, as Franklin knew perhaps too well, the exquisitely mannered French know how to enjoy themselves like no other people in the world! It’s called savoir vivre.
YOU CAN CELEBRATE BASTILLE DAY AND DEVELOP SOME SAVOIR DE VIVRE YOURSELF. HERE ARE SOME IDEAS:
- French Flags. How about adding a few little French flags to your American Stars and Stripes? They share the same colors and many of the same ideals!
- Fleur de Lis ties. Deck yourself out with a tie showing the famous French symbol. This stunning symmetrical design features a horizontal pattern that separates rows of Fleur de Lis emblems. Conservative looking, and yet very fashionable.
The Good Life
IN 1718, NEW ORLEANS’ first manufacturing business got underway. It was a brewery. Some say that ever since then the people of New Orleans have eaten, drank, and made merry in ways similar to their compatriots in Orleans, Paris, and Marseilles. This, they claim, is how and where to enjoy the Good Life!
French taste has certainly left its gourmet imprint on New Orleans. It apparently affects almost every aspect of life in this southern city, even to the point of how the people entertain themselves, with theater and music and, of course, Mardi Gras. Just think about the fabulous French Quarter for starters!
OR, IF YOU PREFER, THINK about French champagne and wine. Or about French food, still the ideal standard for American haute cuisine. And who knows more about cheese than the French? Or almost anything rich and delicious? If you really want to learn how to cook, you must study in France. And if you don’t know all of that, ask any Frenchman. He’ll tell you immediately! If there is anything the French love, it is France. Can you blame them? Humility is not their national characteristic!
YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOOK FAR TO FIND SOME DELIGHTFUL GALLIC SOUVENIRS TO ADD TO YOUR HOME. AND, THESE HAVE THE CHARMING TOUCH OF NEW ORLEANS ON THEM, AS WELL:
- A very French-looking ceramic chef utensil holder and New Orleans souvenir.
A wine bottle cradle. Add a good bottle of French wine and you’ll have the ideal gift and ceramic New Orleans souvenir. This charming cradle is 7 inches high and features little figurines of French chefs. Ahhh…!