On the Eve of the 14th of July

Last year I posted this explanation of the 14th of July that I found on a French friend’s blog: “Today is the ‘Bastille day’ …but do you know that in fact it’s maybe not the Bastille Day, the 14 of July 1789 that we celebrate in France. Maybe it’s the ‘fête de la federation.’ ”

There was another event on the 14th of July 1790 celebrating the unity of the people. French law does not indicate which is being celebrated as far as I have been told. It’s formally called Le Quatorze juillet. No one here calls it Bastille Day. Mais c’est fantastique!

So twelve months later and  it’s still not Bastille Day.  French friends are amused to hear that we call it that in the US. Then they shrug their shoulders in the quintessential Gaelic shrug and say, But why not?

My plans have changed several times – all based on the weather.  And now, maybe influenced by security.  It was supposed to be a beautiful high of 71 day and evening.  Now the chance of rain has moved in, with the time of the rain sliding up and down the hours of the day.  At this moment, there should be no rain at 11pm, time of the show.

The show… doesn’t do it justice.  Just the most awesome fireworks show I have ever seen.  Here’s a link to a video of 90 seconds from 2015.  And realize this went on for 35 minutes!  BBC Paris Fireworks 2015

But it’s not all that simple this year.  An American friend invited several to join her on the Champs de Mars – the field in front of or behind (depends on your location) the Eiffel Tower. I loved the idea – she was willing to hang out from 3 pm to hold the spot for the rest of us.  And when I arrived last year about 7 or 8, there was no place left on the grass!  But if it rains, it won’t be pleasant sitting on the wet grass.  And maybe not even grass!  This is where Paris established a Fan Zone for the EURO 2016.  And they covered the grassy area with bark – perhaps more accurately, large wood chips!  The last game was Sunday night.  I wonder if they have removed the chips or decided to leave it for the fireworks.  And also, what about the security?  The Champs de Mars was totally fenced in for the Euro 2016.  It would be simpler to leave that up in order to check bags, etc.  But I don’t know.  I did see an article that listed where there would be security checkpoints. Not at all sure how this will play out.  Last July no one was thinking about checking bags – it was before the fateful Train Incident and the November 13 attacks.  Still, the government is finally going to let the state of emergency lapse. I wonder when the stores and shopping centers and museums will all stop checking bags.  If ever.

Another important aspect of the 14th of July – most things are closed (and I have been surprised that some stores are going to be open for part of the day!).  About 6:30 this evening I suddenly panicked – BREAD!  So I rushed downstairs to get to the corner bakery.  And laughed to see that almost everyone I passed in the street was carrying a loaf or two of bread!  I bought two – going to freeze one.  And it’s also coming up to that dreaded month of August when Paris closes.   No surprise – a note in the bakery: “Closed from July 30 until August 31.  Desole.”   No, they are not “desole” or sorry.  They are looking forward to vacation!

On a side note, the roof work is complete and they are finally taking down the scaffolding on the roof and the scaffolding in the courtyard that goes from the ground to the roof.  It will be nice not to see scaffolding or workers when I look out my kitchen window.

More about what did happen tomorrow when tomorrow becomes yesterday.

And on another note, look for a travel blog in the next few days – I have been out visiting chateaux!


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