La Fête Nationale

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”  – Charles de Gaulle  (current numbers list approximately 1600 different varieties)

“It was not what France gave you but what it did not take from you that was important.” – Gertrude Stein

“It is better to prevent than to heal.” –  French Proverb


Although this post is late, it is still July and though the festival did not happen this year, due to Covid-19, I couldn’t resist the temptation to pull this old post out of the mothballs and share how we normally celebrate in our little village to celebrate this most important of holidays. Thank you for stopping by a small French village. It is my hope that next year’s fete will give us, once again, the opportunity to celebrate and appreciate all that comes with living in such a wonderous village and Country.

When it is spoken of in English speaking countries, 14 July is usually called Bastille Day or (French National Day). Here in France, it is La quatorze juillet (14 July) or La Fête Nationale (Formal name). The actual storming of the bastille was 14 July 1889

Make reservations?
Make reservations?

The medieval fortress and prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the heart of Paris. On the morning of 14 July 1789, the people stormed the building and released the seven prisoners it contained at the time. Yet this action had nothing to do with the number of inmates but the fact that the storming was a symbol of the abuses of the monarchy and was the critical stage which erupted into the French Revolution.

Grab a beverage and start socialising!
Grab a beverage and start socialising!

There were three events that led up to the revolution. First was the revolt of the nobility, refusal to aid King Louis XVI by withholding taxes, the second was formation of the National Assembly and the third event was the storming of the Bastille and the ensuing Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

Christiane (Counsel member) is ready for a lovely evening with family and friends
Christiane (Counsel member) is ready for a lovely evening with family and friends
A Counsel member chats with the DJ - a band takes over when the meal is finished!
A Counsel member chats with the DJ – a band takes over when the meal is finished!
A great view of the castle and fireworks
A great view of the castle and fireworks
Henri et Georgette - await their respective spouses
Henri et Georgette – await their respective spouses
Christiane, Serge et Pierrette
Christiane, Serge et Pierrette

The masses formed the National Guard, sporting tricolour or cockades (cocardes) ribbons knotted together of red, blue and white. These cockades and soon the color scheme itself, become symbol of the revolution and continue today as symbol of France itself.


And the dancing begins
And the dancing begins

While the date for the destruction of the Bastille was indeed 14 July 1789, the date for French National Day was actually 14 July, 1790 to commemorate the 1790 Fête de la Fédération. It is a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation and reconciliation of all French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic during the French Revolution. Celebrations are held all over France. A largest and oldest military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, French officials and foreign quests.

Dance the night away... at least until 5am
Dance the night away… at least until 5am

Here in my small village, there will be a meal (repas) attended by all who wish. Each year a different village organization takes charge of preparing the dinner, selling tickets procuring music and everything else that is involved. As the meal comes to a close fireworks are shot from the village chateau. The tables and chairs get moved way back and the dancing goes on well into the morning. Despite the fact that I was, once again, invited to spend the day in Carcassonne where there is the second largest fireworks display outside Paris. However, the evening with my friends and neighbors cannot be matched by a mere firework display. It is one day I truly do not want to be anywhere else.

Trinkets for the little ones, a few small arcade games as well
Trinkets for the little ones, a few small arcade games as well

Seating fills quickly but you can make a reservation by stationing someone from your group or by placing something at one point, tipping forward the chairs you will be using and also with a pen or marker put the name and number of guests you require seating for. While this may sound simple, the claim is respected and your seats await you.

Barbe à papa (Papa's beard) AKA Cotton Candy
Barbe à papa (Papa’s beard) AKA Cotton Candy



17 thoughts on “La Fête Nationale

  1. I did read about Le quatorze juillet in my French lessons and how it is a celebration of life! How I wish I can be in France un jour during the celebrations 🙂

  2. After going through this text I can definitely say that …if you don’t know the address of happiness..then go to will find your happiness taking rest there

    1. I am fortunate enough to live in Happiness Central and directly in the heart of it. Thank you for stopping to comment.

  3. Sorry…l mean to say that “if anyone want to unravel the secret address of happiness..then that person must go to that small house called memories”…after reading your post I realized this..that memories are inexhaustible source of my “you” doesn’t you.😊

  4. Jennie, it is my pleasure. Just having the good fortune to be able to wake up here each morning is worth celebrating so The National Holiday is a time to all come together, good friends, good food, and lots of music and dancing. Yes, it is sad to have to forgo these wonderful events but the health and safety of everyone come
    first here.

  5. It’s so sad that these celebrations are on hold, but they’ll be back. Thanks for sharing the special day in French life and the history. It’s fascinating. Can you imagine being one of those lucky prisoners?! Enjoy the rest of your summer, Lea, and be safe, happy, and healthy. 😀

  6. Makes me want to return to France. I always felt quite at home there, even though I am from Rome and have lived many places. I’ve been hesitant in traveling recently because I use an American passport and, even before Covid-19, the Trump government has lowered our image around the world.

    1. Although I was always into traveling, coming to France was, for me, coming home and I have no desire to leave. Yes, I have invitations and there are places I would like to see, but not enough to leave here. I could happily spend the rest of my days exploring France. You are correct about America’s reputation. We have villagers from other parts of Europe but basically French and I’m frequently called upon to “explain” the insanity. Fortunately, all my degrees are in psychology so I am able to but I hope I’m not botching the job, in translation… Thank you for stopping to comment.

    2. Sorry, one of my felines sent the message before I was finished. Remarkable Creatures is a novel based on Mary Anning and her discoveries pre-Darwin. I couldn’t put it down.

  7. I’m not so sure “botching” it is my first concern. What is going on there is a horror fest and with the exception of the few, Progressives” there isn’t a conscience in Washington…

    Anthropology, a fascinating topic. I’m about to finally read On The Origin of Species which I’ve been looking forward to. Alas, my TBR stacks are more than a bit daunting. About two years ago I read a novel called Remarkable Creatures about Mary

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