There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight
A few of us Americans in Paris celebrated Independence Day on the banks of the Seine at the western point of the Ile Saint-Louis with a potpourri of goodies, bottles of wine and good cheer. It drizzled on the way down to the river, but in typical Paris fashion, the clouds came and went, the rain sprinkled a bit and then left us in warmth and soft light the rest of the evening.
This was just the prelude for what is about to come. France is about to gear up for a weekend of Independence Day celebrations of their own (“Bastille Day” — known in French as Le Quatorze Juillet) commemorating the storming of the Bastille fortress/prison on July 14, 1789, the moment in history when France overthrew its monarchy and created the First Republic. But I won’t — instead I’m heading southwest to “La Nouvelle Orléans” for my mother’s 95th birthday celebration.
Yes, I said 95th.
I don’t relish missing the festivities here in France — it’s an event to which I look forward every year, particularly “les Bals des Pompiers” and the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. However, there is much in store for us (the entire family and friends) in my home town, where the heat is high (high 80sF) and it pours raining every day about 2 p.m. in the afternoon, then steams away. There are dinners, lunches and brunches, pool parties and downright pig-outs in the plans, so Paris might not be missed as much one would think.
My mother is the picture of health and good humor. She lives alone, drives her own car (claims to fill it with gas and wash it herself, too), works two volunteer jobs and walks a few miles around the shopping center almost daily. A couple of weeks ago I heard a ‘rumor’ going around town that she was ‘dating’ a friend of mine and was ‘pregnant with twins!’ When I confronted her with the ‘news,’ she responded in a split second with, “Yes, it’s true, but it’s not with him!” to which you can imagine, I laughed till I cried. We all think she will live much past 100 at this rate. I just hope she passed down her good genes to her youngest daughter (me).
Meanwhile, you lucky folks in Paris are headed for a France kind of merriment. Tomorrow you won’t want to miss our monthly gathering “Parler Paris Après Midi” (3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais) when award-winning novelist and screenwriter Timothy Smith talks about “Real life experiences that made a book” — Cooper’s Promise. It’s the last event for the Summer (beginning again in September), so make an effort to join us! For more information, visit Parler Paris Après Midi.
On the 13th and 14th, you will want to mark your calendar for the Bals des Pompiers. It’s party time in the capital and the firemen seriously know how to throw a party! Just imagine a corps of young, well-built handsome men (who make it a practice to kiss all the girls), living in a big compound that has enough space in the bays for the likes of firetrucks, who move out the equipment, bring in the band and the sound system, set up booths where they sell champagne, beer, soft drinks, hot dogs and chips…and that’s what you get at the Bals. Choose a “caserne” (station) near you, get there early, wear your dancing shoes and have cash in your pocket. There is simply no way not to have the time of your life!
On the morning of the 14th, if you didn’t party too hard the night before, head down to the Avenue des Champs-Elysées where the military parade will begin at 9:10 a.m. If you want to see newly elected President François Hollande in the flesh, this is your chance, along with many other officials. There’s a full-out parade and overhead the fighter jets will fly past…all this takes place up until 11:40 a.m.
Later that day, take your picnic to the Champs de Mars to prepare for the fireworks. Get there early — about 3 p.m. — to get the best vantage point: dead center at the point where rue de Grenelle dumps into the grassy plain. From this perspective, the Eiffel Tower silhouetted against the fireworks is a knock-out.
Sure, you’ll be there all day, but it’s well worth it and if you take the right food and drink and ask the right friends to come along, you’ll have a blast. If friends are meeting up with you there, don’t expect your cell phones to work — too many people trying to make the same kinds of calls, so wear bright colors, or post a flag or umbrella marking your spot so everyone can be found — as it’s worse than playing “Where’s Waldo” in a crowd of hundreds of thousands. Also, alcohol is not allowed on the grass, so to pass any inspection, pour your wine into a soft drink bottle!
The fireworks start around 10:45 p.m. and will last about 30 minutes. This year’s theme is “Disco Years” (70-80) — wonder if they’ll make the Tower ‘dance’ like a couple years past? It was amazing!
Here you will find information on all the activities!: Le Quatorze Juillet
After gaining at least 10 pounds eating my way through New Orleans, my daughter and I will be flying down to Costa Rica for a first-time experience of the tropical parks and beaches. Parler Paris may or may not be on time in the usual way…so please bear with me while we ‘live a little’ — and then have plenty to write about!
“There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight”
Music by Theodore A. Metz, Lyrics by Joe Hayden, 1896
Come along get you ready, wear your bran, bran new gown,
For dere’s gwine to be a meeting in that good, dum strange town,
Where you knowed ev’ry body, and they all knowed you,
And you’ve got a rabbits foot to keep away the hoodoo;
Where you hear that the preaching does begin,
Bend down low for to drive away your sin
And when you gets religion, you want to shout and sing
There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
(Photo By Martha Wagley)
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