I woke up on the Fourth of July a little homesick, wishing I were in sunny LA preparing for a backyard barbeque, eating juicy watermelon and watching fireworks along Marina Del Rey at night. Of course, all I had to do was wait ten days for the French to do the same =P
As it turns out, the French celebrate Bastille Day just as we celebrate Independence Day… except with a French twist of course =P More commonly referred to as le quatorze juillet in France, the French national holiday commemorates the storming of the Bastille, a prison that symbolized the absolute power of Louis XVI’s Ancient Regime. Much like how the signing of the Declaration of Independence marked the beginning of the American Revolution, the storming of the Bastille signaled the start of the French Revolution. In both countries, the power of the people prevailed. Hooray!
So, the night before the big day, we had our student party that I decided to skip so I could wake up early for the morning festivities, which start at Champs-Élysées, near the Arc de Triomphe. (Why the military parade takes place on the other side of Paris far away from the Place de la Bastille is still a mystery to me =P)
Of course when I arrived, masses of people were already lining up to get the best view. As I was fighting my way through the crowd, I realized that most of the bystanders were in fact tourists, which made sense in retrospect. The parade turned out to be a bit of a snoozer… lots of waiting around and not much action. No wonder the Parisians stayed at home… I could have been like them and slept in =P
The only part of the parade that got the crowd cheering and oo-ing and aah-ing was when the fighter jets zoomed across the sky leaving tracks of red, white, and blue. Of course all of that lasted probably a whole two seconds, whereas the total wait-time was around two hours… so yea, it wasn’t quite enough to convince me to come back next year =P
Tired and a little dizzy from standing under the hot sun all morning, I retreated back to my apartment and took a nap until the evening festivities commenced. This year marked the 120th anniversary of the Tour Eiffel and supposedly the fireworks extravaganza at Parc Champ de Mars was going to be a highly anticipated event… bigger than ever before. And indeed, it was! According to the news, some 700,000 people (practically all of Paris =P) showed up for the big event! The difference between the morning parade and evening fireworks was literally like comparing day and night, a complete 180° turnaround!
The free concert featuring French rock icon Johnny Hallyday had the crowds gathering around Parc Champ de Mars since 7pm. With the sun setting so incredibly late here, the fireworks didn’t go off until 11-ish and lasted until midnight, but this time it was definitely well worth the wait! The special lighting effects along with the fireworks seemed to have been choreographed to go off perfectly in sync with the music! I can only hope to describe such awesomeness with pictures =P
In simple words, it was a beautiful display showcasing the decades leading up to the Iron Lady’s 120 years in Paris, and I gotta admit, I’m definitely starting to appreciate life here in the City of Lights =D Bonne fête à tous!