Thursday, June 29, 2017

Viva La France – Bastille Day in Sydney

On the 14th July, the globe will celebrate Bastille Day. It’s called la Fete nationale and the Storming of the Bastille taking place on 24th June 1789. This was a major pivot in the French Revolution and celebrates the unity of the French on the 14th July 1790. The whole country (and most of the planet) now rejoices to their hearts content. Here are a few fun facts for you to embrace; maybe some that you know about and others that will make you ponder of your frogs legs appetizer and champagne…from Champagne:

The French celebrates this achievement 10 days after the US celebrates its own Independence Day from the British, and has done so since 1880.

A flurry of revolutionaries stormed the Parisian based Bastille fortress, used as a prison for political prisoners. Even though there were only seven prisoners at the time, the number is irrelevant as the invasion was purely a symbol of oppression by the Bourbon monarchy. The date marked the start of the French Revolution that eventually would overthrow Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI. This milestone marked the end of the ancient regime, whereby the country’s new revolutionary government tore down the Bastille prison – the last stone being removed in 1790.
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower is surrounded by fireworks and usually runs for a solid 30 minutes plus. The French proudly scream Vive le 14 juillet (aka: long live the 14th of July).

Originally, the name Bastille derived from the word bastide, translating to ‘fortification.’ When the tower was built in 1357, it was ironically designed to keep invading armies out, not hold prisoners in. Over the centuries, it grew to encompass a massive gate, a moat, a fortress with 75 foot towers and eventually converted into a state prison, holding up to 55 captives.

On the day of invasion, the captured held in Bastille, were never fully confirmed. Some say that four have committed forgery, two were pure lunatics and one was a disgraced nobleman. Others say that four were forgers, another from aristocracy and two vanished without identification. The Marquis De Sade was believed to be in the thick of this prison number, famous for his erotic writings and the rise of the word: sadism. As the most famous inmate, this aristocrat penned various books including the famous One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom, but he was removed from Bastille 10 days before the invasion.

This holiday is now absolutely internationally hyped up. Franschhoek, South Africa hosts a two day celebration, New Orleans goes all out on dog costume contests (!?!) and Puducherry, Eastern India has a massive firework display. Sydney will honor this day with all things French at the Argyle, The Rocks where tickets cost $15 and you can learn the Cancan…like you do. What better way to end the oh la la celebrations than at Cremorne Point, overlooking the Harbour, sipping French vino, eating baguettes and brie with that beret perched on your head! And the next day, any mild hangover can be easily cured with a lot of H2) and French Toast. Voila!

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