This patriotic holiday commemorates the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille, the fortress-prison in Paris that symbolized the unjust imprisonment of people who disagreed with the king of France and other innocent people (along with criminals).
To the French, this event is the end of the absolute monarchy (a government in which the king has limitless power, and the people have no rights) and the beginning of the path to a democratic republic.
The day is celebrated with a parade, a garden party held by the president of France, and fireworks at night. The fireworks to the left surround the Eiffel Tower.
Viva la France!
- Eat French food. I myself am very partial to a good croissant, but many people love French fries (which Belgians insist are really Belgian fries, but, oh well!). It might be fun to do a French fry “crawl”: gather a group of five or more, and go to a series of restaurants or fast food joints, buying a small order of fries at each restaurant. Everyone shares the fries and then goes on to the next place. At the end, can you reach an agreement about who makes the best fries?
Some people in America really love catsup on their fries, but other sauces are popular, too. Have you ever tried mayonnaise with fries? Sweet and sour sauce? Ranch dressing? Spicy BBQ sauce? Be bold—try 'em all!
Or cook up a gourmet dipping sauce like roasted garlic mayo, parsley butter, or Andalouse sauce. Try these recipes.
Remember, French food is more than just pommes frites. Here are some recipes.
- Learn about French impressionist painters here.
- Finally, find out which French words have found their way into the English language here.