I must admit – living in a country where your birthday is a national holiday is rather nice. It’s quite welcoming of the French to take the day off work, and have parades and fireworks on my birthday. Sure -the day has something to do with the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789 to free political prisoners and the beginning of the Revolution, but I like to think they do it for me.
Fun Fact: only foreigners/Anglophones refer to it as “Bastille Day” – here it is either just La Fête Nationale or le quatorze juillet
Since Heather and Aaron and their girls are currently here visiting we thought that a parade might be a nice idea. Let’s just say that the local idea of a parade is not the parade that I was raised on. It was 10 minutes of military, police & firefighting vehicles driving past so people could show their appreciation for their dedicated service to the French Republic. No floats. No candy thrown. Just hundreds of people lined up behind riot fences, watching the vehicles drive past with their occupants sitting at attention. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just a bit of a let down when you have 5 kids with you that you promised a parade, that you parked and rode the tram downtown for, then had to walk (as the parade route was causing preterbations on the tram line) and then wait almost 2 hours for it to start. When the parade was over an hour and a half late I made some comment to the people next to me about “french military precision” my lovely wife pointed out to me later that perhaps it’s not so polite to openly mock the military of a country in which one is a guest. I didn’t mean to be insulting – I was just pointing out the obvious -and besides, they laughed too.
Luckily there were some spectacular fireworks in our village the previous evening (done the night before, presumably so that we could head down to Grenoble for the real show on the 14th). It was a great night -and for a small town – they were pretty impressive.