Joyeux 14 juillet à tous!
If you want to celebrate Bastille Day like the French, the first thing you need to know is that the French national day is not called Bastille Day in France. The name of France’s national day is either “la fête nationale” (national day) or “le quatorze juillet” (July 14th).
The Bastille was a prison located in Paris’ 11th arrondissement, whose walls and imprisoned people represented the tyranny of the French monarchy and the absolute rule of King Louis XVI and the ancient regime. When hordes of French citizens stormed the prison and tore it down, they captured a major symbol of the monarchy and proved that the King’s power was no longer absolute and that the French people had declared a revolution in favour of a government limited by the separation of powers.
It was also from this movement that the tri-colored French flag, which represents the Republic’s three ideals—liberty, quality and fraternity—first appeared.
On 14 July, in Paris there’s always a military parade in the morning starting at the Arc de Triomphe and ending at Place de la Concorde. In the evening, there’s a free concert on the Champ de Mars and fireworks are set off from the Eiffel Tower. There are more fireworks, concerts and events all over France. French people take advantage of the day off by meeting up with their friends and family for a picnic or a BBQ.
Bastille Day French Vocabulary
• Le quatorze juillet – pronounced ‘katorze jwee yeah’
• La Fête Nationale – National day – never Bastille Day
• Joyeux 14 juillet – have a good national day
• Bonne fête nationale – have a good national day
• Une parade, un défilé – a parade
• Un feu d’artifice – firework (often used in the plural)
• Un drapeau – a flag
• La Marseillaise – French national anthem
• Vive la France – Hurray for France
• Faire la Fête – Have a party!
• La geule de bois - hungover
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