I post new blog entries each Thursday, and today happens to be Thursday, July 14, 2011. The Fourteenth of July is "Bastille Day", commemorating the taking of the Bastille prison in Paris, considered to be the start of the French Revolution. It's a big holiday in France, the equivalent of the American "Fourth of July", which commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independance.
Since July 14th won't fall on a Thursday again until 2016, I thought I ought to celebrate it in my blog. Hence the title, Allons enfants de la patrie ..., which is the first line of "La Marseillaise", the French national anthem.
Never ones to miss a party, and as Francophiles, Margie and I try to celebrate the Fourteenth of July every year. This year, we had a great time at a dinner arranged by Cindy Edelman, Margie's French teacher, and owner of French in Acton.
The fourteenth is celebrated in France with parades in pretty much every city and village. The largest is in Paris, of course, and I attended it in 1961. But the best Bastille Day parade I ever attended was on my honeymoon at the Club Med ("Club Méditerranée") in Martinique, in 1970.
Martinique is actually a part of France - a French "département" (sort of like a state of the United States). And every Club Med resort is like a small village. The executive is called the "chef de village", that is, the village chief. And so, like every other village in France, the Club Med in Martinique had a Fourteenth of July parade.
The parade was a parody of all the parades held in small provincial French villages, and after the parade in the morning, the feasting and drinking and carousing went on for the rest of the day. Although in 1970, Club guests payed for alcoholic beverages with necklaces of pop-beads we wore around our necks, on the Fourteenth of July, glasses of rum-laden Planter's Punch were free, and passed around liberally.
A boat with a half dozen local citizens came by just to watch the crazy Club Med staff and guests carrying on. One of the staff members swam out with a tray of Planter's Punch (doing the sidestroke, and holding the tray above the swells), and passed them out to the occupants of the boat. After drinking up, they rinsed the glasses in the sea, and returned them.
Some of the events of the morning are shown in the photographs below.