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 Bastille Day 
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Post Bastille Day
The storming of the Bastille took place on this day in 1789.

Baron, can you tell us how it is observed in Paris? Thanks!


Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:06 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
I was away for a trip but I remembered Bastille Day. Thanks, Lilly! However, Marie Antoinette's misery began on the 5th October... leaving Versailles... so sad.
Paris could be a whole mess on 14th July! I am also curious what hapenned on Tuesday in Paris, dear Baron?

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Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:26 am
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Post Re: Bastille Day
The French Institute Alliance Fracaise in New York has a big Bastille Day Festivalevery year. I stumbled upon it last year, as it was breaking down. I swore to be there bright and early this year.

There was great food, booths, shopping, and entertainers. I really enjoyed the Can Can Dancers. Check out my photos and video.


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Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:33 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
A few more.

The video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBYsdR5k4B0


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Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:36 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
It seems that people really enjoy celebrating this day.
I can’t help myself but having very mixed feelings.

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Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:41 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
So what happens in Paris on Bastille day? (title which annoys me because the 14th July commemorates the Fête de la Féderation which was celebrated on the 14th July 1790 on the Champs de Mars, a weird republican party with 200.000 spectators and the obligatory presence of the royal family). In Paris they have a big military parade on the Champs Elysées in front of the president and dignitaries, a flypast of military jets, "bals des pompiers" in the evening (literally fireman's balls... if you'll excuse my French) which are open to all and sundry, and lots of horrible youths throwing fireworks. Personally I hide cursing under my bed during the whole of this fateful and very regrettable day...for a start I have to listen to that bloodthirsty national anthem over and over again.

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Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:08 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
I understand your opinion... people don't think of what this day really symbolize.

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Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:08 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
baron de batz wrote:
So what happens in Paris on Bastille day? (title which annoys me because the 14th July commemorates the Fête de la Féderation which was celebrated on the 14th July 1790 on the Champs de Mars, a weird republican party with 200.000 spectators and the obligatory presence of the royal family). In Paris they have a big military parade on the Champs Elysées in front of the president and dignitaries, a flypast of military jets, "bals des pompiers" in the evening (literally fireman's balls... if you'll excuse my French) which are open to all and sundry, and lots of horrible youths throwing fireworks. Personally I hide cursing under my bed during the whole of this fateful and very regrettable day...for a start I have to listen to that bloodthirsty national anthem over and over again.


I tend to come to terms with this post. It seems to me that the 14th of July in fact commemorated the Fête de la Fédération, thus the beginning of the constitutionnal monarchy with the alliance between the King and the Nation, which strikes me as VERY ironical after all that happened afterwards.

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Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:22 am
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Post Re: Bastille Day
Funny. I actually challenged someone who was cheering the day in another venue, but really had no idea what it specifically meant.

I may know more about the matter than most, since I re-issued and heavily annotated Simon Henri Linguet's Memoirs of the Bastille (which may in fact have helped seal the castle's fate, though most of what he describes is more annoying than awful.) And also have a page devoted to the castle:

http://www.chezjim.com/bastille/

Ironically, Linguet was born on Bastille Day, so the storming of his former prison might be considered a birthday present of sorts. (So was the protest singer Woody Guthrie, as it happens.)

The actual storming, for those who've never looked at the details, had nothing to do with freeing the prisoners (of which there were very few, and most common criminals just then.) The Parisian population had heard a rumor - I believe it was that the Austrians were going to come into Paris (prompted by you-know-who) and slaughter them - that made them panic and so they wanted gunpowder which had been stored in the castle. When they finally got in, they took the keys out and paraded them through the streets, totally forgetting about the prisoners (and so they had to batter down the doors later).

The Bastille was already likely to be torn down and was actually done so in a very orderly manner after by a contracted entrepreneur. Louis himself came to celebrate its fall (don't you love it? But then "Ca Ira" was written to one of MA's favorite piano pieces.)

I have no trouble celebrating it simply because most people doing so are celebrating an abstract idea of Liberty overwhelming Despotism and one of the reasons the (entirely illusory) narrative of the event has endured is because the image of the common people overturning impregnable royal power of course has great dramatic and symbolic value. I don't necessarily think the larger concept is a bad one, I just don't think the French Revolution is the best example of doing it successfully.

But it does irk me that educated people who actually care about history so readily cheer it on without the faintest idea of what actually happened, either at the time or after.

Otherwise, aside from the official parades, etc., anyone who happens to be in Paris at that time should know the really fun thing to do is to go the firehouses where you pay some contribution and are given a little pin in the shape of a sapeur-pompier's metal helmet and then listen to music that, no matter what genre or period, inevitably is played on at least one accordion (usually electric these days, so it becomes a synthesizer rather easily).

That's the fun part. The less fun part is the morons who think it's cute to throw firecrackers right at people.

But then unruly and disreputable behavior by crowds is part of what the whole thing is about.

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Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:14 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
Thanks for your post Jim.

It is tragic that the storming of the Bastille was part of the French Revolution, and all the blood and violence it saw.

But I agree with you on the idea of freedom and such, is worth celebrating. Similar to our July 4th in the US


Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:16 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
The Bastille had become an anachronous symbol of Royal power, because it is where the King sent prisoners on his own request by a "lettre de cachet". Rohan for example spent a few weeks there. However we can see how it had no real function anymore as there were so few prisoners. The rioters were not as innocent as all that in as far as they massacred the governor after he had agreed to letting them in. The storming itself was a fairly insignificant battle. As so much during the Revolution, it was an example of the power of manipulation of image and symbol to procure psychological advantage over those one was fighting against and also over those one was using to do the fighting.

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Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:23 am
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Post Re: Bastille Day
baron de batz wrote:
As so much during the Revolution, it was an example of the power of manipulation of image and symbol to procure psychological advantage over those one was fighting against and also over those one was using to do the fighting.


Yes, I agree. Actually, I think the revolution in general is very interesting under the point of view of the manipulation of symbols and the creation of a shared identity, and the take of the Bastille is maybe one of most emblematic events in this sense.

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Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:41 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
I think that the revolution is a symbol of mankind's eternal fight for a social equality that it is impossible to achieve, precisely because one man will always rise up over another, from the playground to the grave. You can't legislate against human nature, only offer a framework that softens and improves the life of those not born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

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Sun Sep 06, 2009 4:23 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
Yes, I agree. And I think that this can only be achieved by gradual changes, otherwise it ends up making things worst (at least, for the moment).
Revolutions attract our imagination because of their ideal element, and this is also (I think) the meaning of their celebration in collective memory. Then, if you study what has really happened, you always discover that reality is very different from the idealized image you had, but notheless that idealized image has an own meaning and value.

(I'm sorry, I'm not practising my English very much and it's getting worse and worse! But I hope what I wrote makes some sense anyway :) )

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Wed Sep 09, 2009 7:29 pm
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Post Re: Bastille Day
Your English is still excellent, Rosalie! :love:

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Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:43 pm
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