Art & Culture

Published on July 7th, 2014 | by Anne-Fleur Andrle Stephan

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Where to celebrate Bastille Day in the United States ?

It’s here! It’s summer! In the United States, the barbecue season was officially launched the Memorial Day weekend. Some good extending weekends await you, and for the luckiest of you, the holidays! Yes, but… The music festival is already over, in your opinion, what shall we talk about? July 14 of course!
Whether you are French, Francophone, Francophile or just curious, you have heard about it! But do you really know what it is? A prison? Yes indeed. A national holiday? Very much so.

Let’s continue… The Bastille is a very well known public square in Paris. It’s here, traditionally that the French people (or at least Paris) meet for special occasions: elections, demonstrations (yes, we’re French!), concerts, etc… The Bastille was turned into a jail, in which Kings imprisoned enemies. Anecdote aside, it seems that in these days the Bastille only held seven prisoners of fairly minimal political importance. The invading of the Bastille formally marks the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. It would only be in 1878 that a big party was organized for the people, and that we saw the first big military parades on this occasion, such as we know today.

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Bastille Day. Photo by Allposters.com

Today, July 14 is also often an opportunity for a picnic with family or friends, barbecues, long weekends, etc… And you, how will you celebrate July 14th this year?
Did you know that July 14 is celebrated in more than 50 different cities in the United States! From Baltimore to Dallas, New Orleans, Chicago, New York and Sacramento? A celebration of the Revolution but, also the historical friendship between the United States and France. Here is a small selection of “places to be” this year! Kitsch, delicacy, music and lots of good ideas…!

For several decades, New England has been particularly active with celebrations for 14 July. The French Cultural Center of Boston has organized it for 39 years! This year, the organizers will meet with you on Friday, July 11 at 6 o’clock to celebrate it on Marlborough Street, in the famous Back Bay neighborhood. On the program, francophone concerts live in a street completely cut off from traffic for the occasion, as well as good food prepared by French Bostonians restaurants for the occasion, served with good local beers and wines.
[Tickets purchased in advance $28, $35 on site, for more information, call 617.912.0400 or http://www.frenchculturalcenter.org/index.cfm/events/scheduled-events/bastille-day-party-2014/]
Still around Boston, Harvard Square (Cambridge) will be animated on July 13 in Holyoke Street, for a festival that combines music, dance and good food for you to take it all in!
[For more information: http://www.harvardsquare.com/articles/harvard-square-business-association-announces-2014-calendar-events-0#sthash.8ko1E181.dpuf]

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Fireworks and the Liberty Statue. Photo by Français New York

Go down a little further south now, still on the east coast.
New York. For many years, “Bastille Day on 60th Street”, organized by the French Alliance of New York, is crowded. This year should not be an exception to the rule. The event is on Sunday, July 13, from noon to 5:00 p.m. between 5th and Lexington Avenues on the Upper East Side. Some good crêpes, éclairs, cheeses, wines and beers await you as well as raffles. This event is perfect if you are looking for something to entertain your family, because many of the activities are planned for children. In addition, the entry is free so go for it! [More: http://www.bastilledayny.com/index.shtml]

Heading to the south now, in the direction of Cowboy Country in the city of Dallas. On the program, we have a mussels competition (yes, seafood. We have looked at it and did not really understand it, so if you go there, tell us what it is!), small outdoor craft markets, wine tasting, Vespa racing, petanque competitions, a French variety concert, dance… In short, all you need to spend a good evening in the village at the heart of the Ardèche – where you spent your vacation as a kid!
Events on July 14th, from 6 to 10 pm in the historic Bishop.
[Tickets $25, for more information: http://bastilleonbishop.com]

We could not talk about the celebrations of July 14th without a stop in the most French of American cities, New Orleans! The bar is set at a very high level again this year! The festival will take place across the city throughout the weekend of July 11 to 13 included. The French Alliance has planned activities in the Spanish Plaza (at the foot of Canal Street) and several local and Francophone artists will honor the French culture, children can get their faces painted, readers of stories in French will be there and several hands-on activities will be organized for the youngest. You can even connect with France via a live radio! Dogs are also invited to participate via the contest “French Dog Contest”, where dogs of all breeds will have to show the Frenchy’s in them … And, of course, delicacy is also waiting for you. You can find Crêpes à la carte, Café Degas, Dijon et Bread on Oaks for the delight of your taste buds. [For more info: http://www.bastilledaynola.com]

Back to North in Al Capone country… Chicago celebrates France and July 14, yes, like many other cities. But did you know that, as in Paris, they organize a big race for waiters? This race organized for the first time in Paris in 1930, is also held in Chicago every year for July 14. [For more info: http://www.waitersrace.com/bastille-day-waiters-races/]

Finally, heading to the West Coast. The Francophile community is very active in California… If you are looking for a swanky atmosphere, an event takes place on July 12 from 4 pm to midnight at French Tuesday (Beverly Hills Sofitel Los Angeles). Breakdancers, DJs, games and appetizers followed by concerts and other entertainment. But be careful, there is a dress code: blue, white, red, but “casual chic.” Tickets are between $16 and $82. [For more info: http://www.frenchtuesdays.com/events/bastilleday2014/]

If you are in the Los Angeles area, why not visit a good petanque tournament organized by the equally famous “Los Angeles Petanque Club”? No need to be a member, you just need a partner (teams of two). Croissants and coffee will be available. The tournament starts at 10:30 am, so you must arrive a little before to register. [$ 15 / person, no lunch provided, RSVP by email to LAPCMemberRelations@gmail.com or http://www.losangelespetanque.com/bastille_2014_flyer.pdf]

And finally, at 10:30 am, Saturday, July 12, the “Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts” will offer demonstrations of “French food” throughout the country (Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Sacramento, Orlando, Miami, etc..). From their famous onion soup to chocolate mousse, come to dazzle the eyes! Beware though, space is limited, and it is recommended that you register. [Free. For more info: http://www.losangelespetanque.com/bastille_2014_flyer.pdf]

And you, what are you doing on July 14th? Are you looking for a nice event “at home” or would you rather beat a house for barbecue with friends? Tell us!


About the Author

Coming from the "Far west" of France, Anne-Fleur grew up in Finistere (Brittany). Currently working in the hightech industry, she represents a French company specialized in smartglasses apps in the US. Engineer by training and based in Boston, she loves to get back to her Briton roots a couple of times a year. After graduating from the Université de Technologie de Compiegne, in France , she decided to pursue her studies in biomedical sciences at the graduate school of the State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo, NY. Driven by sciences and her desire to learn, Anne-Fleur hosted a radio show, "les échos de l'innovation" (literally innovation echoes) for a couple of years, offering debates and interviews, aiming to dissect misconceptions in science and technologies for the layman. Always thirsty for discovery, she loves traveling, initiating new projects and exploring the ocean, on a sailing boat or with her snorkel.



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