At Liberty in the City of Light
It was almost like the fever broke and then there was life. One minute, it was so hot that being outdoors in Paris was totally energy-draining, if not downright painful. The next minute, the cool air came rushing in, the windows were closed, the fans were turned off and we were back to donning sweaters. Go figure…I simply can’t keep up with Paris weather.
These July days are busy, busy, busy planning for events on the horizon in the City of Light. While the French aren’t paying much attention to July 4th, we Americans ARE and celebrate it in spite of our not being on U.S. soil. Instead, we plan our picnics on French earth — or at least French grass, if it hasn’t gotten scorched from the overzealous sun. This year, my friends and I have chosen to make our spread on the grass at the Jardin Tino Rossi that stretches along the riverbanks of the Seine between the Institut du Monde Arabe and the Jardin des Plantes. Many well-known artists’ sculptures are displayed there including Brancusi, César, Rougemont, Zadkine and Schoffer, among others. From there we’ll be able to watch the boats go by and take in the landscape with Notre Dame in the background…that is, what is left of the badly burned iconic cathedral. There may even be a bit of tango or other dancing with which we can participate.
Just a week later we’ll be celebrating another independence day, this one appropriately on French soil, as July 14th (Bastille Day) is the day the Bastille prison was stormed marking the turning point of the French revolution. It’s a seriously important day in France, beginning with a military parade along the Champs Elysées and ending with fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. It’s a day I have always treasured, even if my experiences that day haven’t always been so pleasurable.
The night before, on the 13th of July as well as on the 14th, too, the firemen (famous for being the handsomest bunch of guys in France) open their “casernes” (stations) to the public to host big parties all over France. They are known as “Les Bals de Pompiers,” or the Fireman’s Balls and it’s all part of the merriment. These events are the main reason I stick around in Paris until the partying dies down…before heading south for the rest of the summer.
The Paris Tourist Office website is a great place to find everything being offered so I won’t have to bore you with the details, but I will tell you this: you won’t want to miss any of it if you can help it. I’ll be reporting on it as the events take place, but for now, organize your picnic gear, get out your dancing shoes and be prepared to have a whole lot of fun in the City of Light.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(Bastille Day in the Champ de Mars)
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