July 14, 2022: Bastille Day. The 14th of July is celebrated in grand fashion in Paris, with military parades, fireworks, and an all-night party. This is the French National Celebration, also known as Bastille Day, akin to the USA’s 4th of July.
“The French Revolution gave us three powerful ideas, or concepts – liberty, equality and fraternity. But these ideas are not only right in themselves, but they are so because they come in the proper order. You cannot have equality without liberty, and you certainly cannot have fraternity without equality.”
― Daniel Barenboim
On July 14th 1789, tensions between the French citizenry and the monarchy boiled over. Parisians attacked and captured the Bastille, a notorious prison in Paris. The French Guards, charged with protecting public buildings, joined the rioters. Within a few days, the French Assembly abolished the feudal system published the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The keys to the Bastille were given to the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American revolution. He gave the keys to his good friend George Washington, and they reside in Washington’ Mount Vernon home to this day.
After a lazy morning, Jean and I headed to Champ du Mars, the large park in front of the Eiffel Tower. This is the epicenter of the celebration. The symphony played, opera stars serenaded, and the crowds sang along.
We arrived early, and bought yoga mats and a picnic, and settled down early in one of the few shady spots 5 hours before the show. I’m glad we did; the park quickly filled in and by concert time (8pm), it was packed. Every square foot of green was covered. And when the fireworks started at 11pm, everyone stood and even more people crowded onto the green.
It was a terrific light and fireworks show, starring of course the 133-year-old Eiffel tower. We walked about two miles home after the show to our apartment, and the Paris streets were alive with after parties until late. Fantastic!