posted on July 13, 2007 15:41
First of all, it's not called 'Bastille Day' in French - it's simply la fête nationale or le 14 juillet. And there isn't even an event at Place de la Bastille in Paris (ironically, the column with the gold figure that now stands there commemorates the defence of the restored monarchy against an unsuccessful revolution in 1830).
The focal point of the French national holiday is the morning's military parade on the Champs-Elysées. This year there will be a contingent of Irish soldiers marching down the boulevard, along with troops from the other EU nations.
Then in the evening all Parisian eyes turn to the Eiffel Tower for a huge fireworks display. There will also be a massive free concert by '70s icon Michel Polnareff, who lived in self-imposed exile in L.A. for thirty years before returning to France this year for a series of lucrative nostalgia shows. However, Paris on the night of 14 July is a nightmare - drunken aggression, crowded public transport, firecrackers in the metro (in these terrorist-threatened times, scarier than you'd think). All in all, just like every Saturday night in Temple Bar (We'll watch the fireworks from La Défense, home of the Grande Arche and glass skyscrapers).
Tonight (13 July) in most towns there is the traditional bal des pompiers or fireman's ball. Every fire brigade station hosts a ball (these days, more like a disco) where French women go to leer at French firemen. The bal traditionally ends in drunken lewdness, lechery and fighting - again, just like Temple Bar.
If you feel like joining in the celebration... well, we've given you a great French soundtrack over recent times: new music from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Pravda, Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle, Justice, Plastiscines, Manu Chao, PacoVolume, Naast and Constance Verluca, classics old and modern by Vanessa Paradis, Serge Gainsbourg, Yannick Noah, Amel Bent, Edith Piaf and Vanessa And The O's, and even some adopted French sounds by Malajube (from Quebec) and the resolutely ten-fingered Django Reinhardt (Belgian).
However, we've forgotten France's most-loved rock icon. So, for the French national holiday, singing 'Allumer Le Feu' ('Light The Fire') live at the Parc des Princes in 2003: ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.... here's Johnny!!!!