Bastille Day: A Fourteenth of July in Paris

Posted by Marianne Sartori
July 14, 2010
Airplanes Fly Red, White and Blue Above Paris

About the Author: Marianne Sartori serves in the U.S. Embassy Paris Press Office.

As a French employee working at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, to me, July feels like the month of celebrations. A few days ago, we celebrated the U.S. Independence Day at the Ambassador's residence. Tomorrow, France will quiver with emotion when the tanks and military troops go down one of the most famous avenues of the world to mark Bastille Day. As it is well known, the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 was closely related to the U.S. revolution just a few years before, and Thomas Jefferson, the U.S. Ambassador to France at that time, was a supporter of the revolution in its early days. The links in the origins of the modern French state and the birth of the United States of America are one of the many reasons that our two countries remain old allies. July 4 and July 14 are two dates that both carry great historical weight, and I am lucky to see both our countries respectively celebrating them each year.

As in the United States, France celebrates its national day with parades and fireworks. I must say that the huge parade that takes place every year on the Avenue des Champs Elysees is always very impressive. I was able to see it with my own eyes two years ago, although I learned that if one wants a great spot, one should be there very early, which I was not. This is how I ended up being able only to catch a few glimpses of President Nicolas Sarkozy coming down the Avenue des Champs Elysees for his first Fourteenth of July. Even so, because it is such a special event, I loved it. The parade was -- and always is -- perfectly orchestrated. This year, fifty years after the independence of many former French colonies in Africa, troops from 13 African countries will march down the Champs Elysees as special guests. The stands were already set up a few days ago on the Place de La Concorde, visible from the U.S. Embassy. And as usual on July 14 in Paris, there will be also the wonderful colorful fireworks that will surround the Eiffel Tower around 23:00. Even though thousands of people are there, even though it is crowded, silence reigns when the event starts. I find Paris magical at that special time. Every year, these celebrations remind us about the importance of our history and about democracy.

The close proximity of our national holidays also reminds us of the continued close ties between the United States and France. Every day, the excellent state of U.S.-French relations continues to be celebrated, and a steady flow of official visitors serves to underscore the close relationship. Most recently, National Security Advisor General James Jones came to Paris on Monday 12, 2010, to discuss with his counterparts the many important issues dominating the bilateral agenda. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke has visited here to engage his counterparts, as has Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Phillip Gordon. Secretary Clinton came in late January, to be followed by Secretary Gates a few weeks later.

Today, France is once again part of NATO's integrated command structure, has several thousand combat troops in Afghanistan, and is a key partner of the United States. President Sarkozy's recent visits to the United States established once again the good relations between our two countries and mark our ongoing collaboration on various issues, such as Afghanistan, Haiti, NATO, the G-8, and the G-20. On every major world issue, France and the United States are working together to find solutions that increase the security and prosperity of people around the globe.

For more information about what is going on in Paris tonight and tomorrow, you can go to to find information about the program and to watch the celebrations live. For more information on the Franco-American relationship and the activities of the U.S. Embassy in Paris, we invite you to visit the embassy's website or become a fan of our Facebook page.



South Korea
July 14, 2010

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Dear to,,,

I have felt the beauty of flight and aerobatics. Off-topic story, but what it takes to each other but someone without the fear of failure is needed to provide to each other would create a great picture you think we should dare to speak.

Glenn E.
West Virginia, USA
July 14, 2010

Glenn E. in West Virginia writes:

It's great to see France as a powerful NATO member again. I don't think many of us in the states appreciate France' contribution to the Afghanistan war

Virginia, USA
July 14, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

The Key to the Bastille can be found at Mt. Vernon. It was a gift from Lafayette to George Washington.

Penny W.
Tennessee, USA
July 14, 2010

Penny W. in Tennessee writes:

What an honor – I just finished student teaching summer school French and French culture in a Tennessee City School. Reading this blog makes me swell with pride for both countries. Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité!
Penny W.
Artist and Teacher

Virginia, USA
July 14, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

Time to rock out! Everybody get your high, squeaky voices ready and sing:

"Bastille Day"
by Rush

There's no bread; let them eat cake.
There's no end to what they'll take—
flaunt the fruits of noble birth,
wash the salt into the earth.

But they're marching to Bastille Day.
La Guillotine will claim her bloody prize.
Free the dungeons of the innocent.
The king will kneel and let his kingdom rise.

Bloodstained velvet, dirty lace;
naked fear on every face.
See them bow their heads to die
as we would bow as they rode by.

And we're marching to Bastille Day.
La Guillotine will claim her bloody prize.
Sing, oh, choirs of cacophony.
The king has kneeled to let his kingdom rise.

Lessons taught but never learned…
All around us anger burns…
Guide the future by the past…
Long ago the mould was cast.

For they marched up to Bastille Day—
La Guillotine claimed her bloody prize.
Hear the echoes of the centuries:
Power isn't all that money buys.

New Mexico, USA
July 14, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I think it should be remembered on this day of all days that there still exists modern day Bastille's in this world.

Evin Prison in Tehran being a prime example.

And as far as "eating cake" is concerned, Aminidijad would have his people eat something far less tasty.

In fact, if you are starving on the street in Iran, he has suggested you become a martyr and join a suicide opperations group to relieve your hunger and obtain the "pinnacle of human artistic achievent".

I have a simple question for everyone on this blog and beyond...

How much longer should we be witness to stonings and brutality, tourture and the crushing of the hopes and dreams of an entire nation by a unelected dictators?

Just how long must this song go on....and on...and on.....????

District Of Columbia, USA
July 15, 2010

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

Thank you for the lovely posting. I was touched to read your enthusiasm for both the U.S. and French national days.

Martha F.
Michigan, USA
July 23, 2010

Martha F. in Michigan writes:

As an American who has been living in France for the past 8 months I was very excited to see my first Bastille Day celebration! I was also very pleased to see that France honored the dedication and hard work of the 13 African country troops who were present at the parade.


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