Getting Ready for Le Quatorze Juillet
If you’re Stateside, then you’re settling back into work after a long July 4th weekend and we in France are just getting started!
Soccer fans were out everywhere Friday night watching the game on big screen TVs set up by cafés and restaurants while we downed burgers and other American goodies (like Caesar Salad, pork ribs and pecan pie) at Joe Allen, Paris.
Nothing was missed, however, as the soccer matches were being broadcast on big TV screens behind us, too, and there were plenty of fans doing what we were doing…celebrating the 4th of July. Unfortunately, France lost to Germany 1-0 — not a pretty sight. Meanwhile, a magician roamed from table to table doing card tricks and amazing us all including making a goldfish magically appear out of a small balloon. It was impressive.
For a traditional American-style barbecue, friends living in the beautiful and elegant suburb of Le Vésinet invited a couple-dozen of their Anglo-Franco friends for grilled pork and merguez on Saturday night, not in celebration of Independence Day, but of the host’s birthday. It’s a short RER train ride away and like being transported on a magic carpet, one lands at the station next to a serene pond surrounded by gated estates of notable size and splendor. It is idyllic.
I had forgotten what life like that was like. Once upon a time, living in a huge house with all the bells and whistles (like pool, hot tub, gardens, etc., etc.) on three acres of wooded property, we used to barbecue just like that with our family and friends. Then, one day we ‘woke up’ and thought, “Let’s move to Paris and see what life would be like on the other side of the big pond.” That was almost 20 years ago — the last time I owned a car or lived in a house with outdoor space and plenty of greenery.
These folks have it all. They have the idyllic luxurious life of a wealthy suburb, but at the same time have Paris at their doorstep. If you have kids and pets and a world of your own, then it’s close to perfect. They and all of their friends who live in the nearby communities such as Chatou and Saint-Germain-en-Laye seemed to love having the best of both worlds, plus clearly they’ve also found a good blend of both cultures with most of the couples being mixed, French and American.
Those of us who came from ‘the city’ and live life on our own thought we might not see it as so idyllic — instead we might see it as lonely or boring…at least we have Paris as our companion and lover. As one might imagine, the “banlieusardes” (surburnites) aren’t as likely going to partake of all that’s coming up this weekend in Paris, but we “citadins” (urbanites) easily and gladly will.
First, there are the “Bals des Pompiers” — the Fireman’s Balls — that take place the 12th, 13th and 14th of July at many of the city’s “cassernes” (fire stations). If you have never been, then be sure to attend at least one. Be prepared to drink champagne, munch on hotdogs and wear your dancing shoes so you can dance the night away! Ladies, you may also get lucky and get kissed by one of the young, buff and handsome firemen of which legends are made! (It’s a Bal tradition.)
Then, there’s Bastille Day. In French the 14th of July is called “La Fête Nationale” or “Le Quatorze Juillet” — commemorating the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille on that same day in 1789.
The bastille itself is long gone, but the oldest and largest military parade in Europe takes place on the avenue des Champs-Élysées that morning, not to be missed in person or on the tele. Here’s more information on that.
And if that’s not enough, you’ll definitely want to see the incredible fireworks display that are launched from the Trocadero at 11 p.m. on the 14th. This year, the theme is War and Peace.
As is tradition, I like to picnic on the Champ de Mars with friends and wait for the fireworks to begin. The secret is to get there early afternoon, find a spot from the middle of the field to the southern point at Ecole Militaire for the best vantage point, bring enough picnic goodies to last you all day (and maybe board games or other activities), bring your booze in soda bottles (alcohol is not allowed on the grounds), and just enjoy every minute of being lazy among hundreds of thousands of people! The fireworks are always breathtaking and never disappoint!…It’s one of my favorite days of the whole year.
So, get ready…there’s plenty in store for everyone this coming week in the City of Light (and all over France, even in the suburbs)!
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(eating her annual burger)
P.S. Join us tomorrow, July 8th, for Parler Paris Après-Midi when author Gerri Chanel will speak about how she discovered the stories in her book, Saving Mona Lisa: The Battle to Protect the Louvre and its Treasures During World War II. It’s fun and it’s free — costs only what you drink! We meet upstairs at Le Café de la Mairie (formerly La Pierre du Marais) on the corner of rue des Archives and rue de Bretagne, 3rd Arrondissement, Métro Lines 9, 3 et 11, stations Temple, République or Arts et Métiers. Visit Parler Paris Après-Midi for more information. See you there!
P.P.S. I have a special request: For those of you who tune in to HGTV’s House Hunters International for the new episode “A Taste for Paris” on July 10, 2014 (at 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. E/P), I’d greatly appreciate a recording I can privately view since I don’t get to see my own shows from Paris! Please do not broadcast it openly (it’s copyrighted), but send the file or link to [email protected] Many thanks!! And for all you fans, we now have a special Facebook page you can join and where you can voice your opinions.