Wanna know how you can celebrate Bastille Day like the French? 

And for my local people here in Seattle, how do you celebrate Bastille Day in Seattle?

Watch this cute Seattle Refined KOMO Show featuring French Truly (and Bruno) to help you become a little bit French on our “Fête Nationale”!

If you didn’t make it to the end, here is the fairly silly and very amusing little French Movie Seattle Refined and I made together:

Ha ha we had so much fun making this video!

Alright so we are celebrating! But exactly what are we celebrating??

Think you know? Think again!

You call it “Bastille Day”, we call it “Fête Nationale”! Did you notice what happened? We lost the “Bastille”! And there is a very good reason for that! So… exactly what do French people celebrate on July 14th?

Of course, everyone is going to say the Storming of the Bastille, which marks the beginning of the French Revolution, but actually, it may very well not be that. The truth is, no one knows!

That’s because during the French Revolution, there was not one famous July 14th but two! 

Let’s start with the one you know: July 14th 1789 – The Storming of the Bastille

La Bastille was a State Prison, which in people’s eyes, represented the tyranny of the monarchy because being sent there was completely arbitrary and did not require any kind of proof or trial. Also, no one knew what went on inside and so it left room for people’s worst fantasies.

We often picture the Storming of the Bastille by the people of Paris as a symbol of freedom because of the image of freeing the prisoners but it was in fact:

-to obtain gun powder for the people to defend itself against the foreign armies Louis XVI had rallied for the Royal Family and the Court’s safety and

-to destroy a symbol of the monarchist tyranny. FYI, there were only 7 prisoners inside the walls of la Bastille and they were almost forgotten! Oops!

And now the one you probably didn’t know: July 14th 1790 – La Fête de la Fédération

The painting shows a proud Lafayette holding our brand new French flag! It used to be white only, color of the monarchy. The men and women of the French Revolution wanted the new flag to bear blue and red also, the colors of Paris.

Et voilà: bleu, blanc, rouge!

This day saw the celebration of the short lived Constitutional Monarchy. 

This could have been the end of the Revolution as everyone seemed somewhat happy with the new prospect of a more liberal and enlightened monarchy. But as we all know the Revolution did not stop then and everything went from bad to worse for the Royal Family and the rest of the country.

So? July 14th? Bastille in 1789 or Fédération in 1790?

July 14th became France’s national day in 1880 at the beginning of the third republic but at the time nobody wanted to say whether they thought more highly of the Revolution or of the Constitutional Monarchy. The Law is purposely remaining vague!

“La République adopte la date du 14 juillet comme jour de la fête nationale annuelle”

(The Republic adopts the date of July 14th as annual national day)

Fascinating, don’t you think?

Now that we (kind of) know what we celebrate, how do we celebrate in today’s France?

1-“Le défilé”: a military parade takes place in most big French cities. The biggest one is in Paris, along with the Président de la République.

2- In the evening, we celebrate with “le bal populaire”, which is a local dance hop where you can have fun with your friends, drink some lovely wine, dance, and then we…

3- … watch the fireworks! I’m showing you “la Tour Eiffel” here but they happen everywhere in France: big cities, small towns, everywhere!

Et voilà! Hope you liked the post!

Now you need to tell me how you’re planning on celebrating Bastille Day! And you can do that by using the comment box at the bottom of the post!

Can’t wait to hear what you have to say and… Happy Bastille Day!

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