Monday, July 17, 2017

Bastille Day celebrations

 by Cristina Grau

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
A few days ago we celebrated Bastille Day. 

As I mention in a previous post, I am in the Alps Maritimes, in the middle of nowhere. So, the celebrations here were nothing to talk about. They had nothing in Puget Theniers, which is the closest village to where I am staying. In the next town, they had fireworks, and that was it.

I was fortunate to have been in Paris in 2001 during Bastille Day, and what a great experience that was.

Bastille Day celebrates the uprise of the Parisian people against the monarchy.

Paris was rioting around the Bastille, which is a fortress used as a prison. Parisians had to pay exorbitant taxes, leaving them with no money for food or necessities. well most of the time, they did not even had the money to paid the taxes. They were starving, and they were sick and tire of living that way, and they blamed the monarchy (with good reason) for all their sufferings.
On July 14, 1789, the population was demanding the release of all the prisoners in the Bastille. And a bloody fight resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy. And this was the beginning of the French Revolution. 

And hopefully, you all know what happened to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. They both met their destiny under the guillotine. 

The French revolution lasted until 1799, when Napoleon Bonaparte led a Coup d’√Čtat, but that is another story.

In Paris, the celebrations start the night before with fireworks and the ball of the pompiers. = firefighters.

The hostel I was staying is in the Latin quarters, and on the 8th floor they have a big terrace with a 180° view, from Montparnasse to Montmartre, with the Eiffel Tower right in the center. Obviously, we all watched the fireworks from the terrace. And what a perfect spectacle it was, seeing the Eiffel tower lighted up in red, blue and white, and the display of the fireworks was beautiful.

Every fire department hosts a dance, and it was great, I danced the whole night till 5 am. After the dance, a shower, some breakfast and to attended the parade at 10 am. After that, it was very difficult to decide what to do. They had so many free shows, and they were all great, but I could only go to one, so I choose Swan Lake. And it only took about three hours in line to get a seat.  The ballet was great, even that by then it was difficult to stay awake, but I made it. 

It was a great experience and so much fun. 

After being up for two days partying, I slept all night and all day, but it was worth it. 

Arch of Triumph
 Palace of Versailles
While Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lived in opulence, the country was starving.