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Monday, July 17, 2017

La Fête Nationale, aka Bastille Day

July 14: French National Day, Bastille Day, La Fête de la Fédération: All names for a big day of celebration in France. (If you click on the photos, you can see them in full frame.)
My favorite uniforms. I want one of those hats.
We were happy to be here to experience this national celebration. The first event of the day was the military parade that winds downs the magnificent Champs-Élysée. We live a mere 15 minute walk from the parade route so we figured we should get up and check out the happenings. At 8.30 a.m. streams of people were already finding their way for a 10.00 start time so we were glad to have arrived when we did. We were interviewed for French tv and a clip of me was on the news! Pretty funny. The parade itself kicked off when President Macron drove by in his own vehicle. We got a mere glimpse of him.
The parade was interesting, full of pomp and displays of military color and might. There were no bands so we listened to recorded music as the various uniformed French military paraded by. Some of the uniforms were magnificent to behold. I'm not a big military girl, but it was fun to experience France's display of the branches of their military. 
The firemen got a big cheer. Those helmets glistened!
Once the big trucks and tanks began to roll through one had to admit that it was not a sight one sees on an ordinary day.

It also reminded me of times in France when the military presence was not so peaceful and of the great carnage that this nation suffered during the two world wars. The plane flyovers were the most magnificent of all and it was fun to watch the steady stream of jets flying in formation overhead. All in all, it was fun to be a part of these festivities.
We were pretty tired from the previous week so we just relaxed most of the day. We decided to take a walk around the Eiffel Tower around 6.00pm as we knew people would be gathering for the firework show that night. What a zoo that was. We were thankful that we had our own secret plan for viewing the fireworks that did not include fighting the thousands of people jockeying for position on the Champs du Mars. 
A wonderful young woman who has been a terrific youth leader with us this year joined us at about 8.00 p.m. and around 10.00 p.m. we climbed the spire of the church. It's quite a straight uphill climb but once there, totally worth it. The view was magnificent and the sunset was unfolding and we knew that our perch was going to be perfect for the fireworks show. We popped a bottle of champagne, toasted to our life in France and waited for the spectacle to begin.
We were not disappointed. I have seen a lot of firework shows in my lifetime and this one was one for the ages. The interplay of the Eiffel Tower and the fireworks against the dark sky was a sight to behold. We were dazzled time and again by the beautiful artwork that dotted the sky.
Soon it was over and as we watched the masses scurry home, we simply climbed down the ladders and made our way to home. We all felt satisfied with the way in which we embraced living in France and celebrated Bastille Day in a very French way. Vivé la France. They celebrate well on their national day.