Strolling Around On Bastille Day

photo: quai, pont, lightshow
Light and sound, on the quays and bridges in Paris.

Paris Was Made For 'Long Walks'

eMail from John McCulloch, via the Internet:
Dear Ric,

Saturday, 11. July 1998:- A bright, sunny and not too hot day in Paris - what better to do than take a long walk, especially on the national holiday, the 14th of July, 1963.

Starting from my 'home' near the place du Trocadéro I wandered up to the Etoile, then down along thephoto: folie at vincennes Champs, stopping part way down and just off the avenue for morning coffee - half coffee - half warm milk - and warm buttered bread.

Continuing on, I explored the Tuileries, photographing the flowers, statues and people. At one point, turning around, I could see along the central path, into the place de la Concorde, up the Champs, straight to the Arc du Triomphe with its - so memory says - 15-plus metre high French flag. Whatever the size, it was the largest flag I'd ever seen.

Kida in the 'folie' at Vincennes, 35 years ago.

Finishing the 'tour' of the gardens, including the Carrousel, I went out to rue de Rivoli, just in time to catch a troop of mounted Republican Guards in full regalia heading along towards the Champs and possibly the Palais de l'Elysée.

I headed towards the Bastille itself for a walk around and lunch by the canal. After a few hours of poking along and enjoying the sights of the city, I found myself in the Bois de Vincennes. Children feeding the swans, playing in the 'folly' and 'caves', and everyone relaxed and enjoying the day.

Just before dusk I headed towards 'Storyville,' a jazz-bar in rue de la Huchette, just off the boulevard Saint-Michel - for a light supper and to meet some friends. Later we caught the performancephoto: rue de la huchette of the Son et Lumière at Notre-Dame. I believe this was the first year that light-show productions had come to Paris.

In the rue de la Huchette, slightly less lit-up than it is today.

Breaking up after the show, I left by the back of the Ile de la Cité, across to the Ile Saint-Louis, and then on to the right bank. I paused just long enough to take a time exposure of the Seine, the Ile de la Cité, and the searchlights shining through the Arc du Triomphe, which were placed to illuminate the flag and the sky.

I seem to remember that the lights were tri-color too; red, white and blue, although the photo does not really show the colors.

A quick trip on the métro, and 'home' - tired, but with photographs and memories to last a lifetime.


Photos and text: John McCulloch©1998

photo: big flag at arc

Fireworks On Bastille Day

Bonjour John,

Paris:- Sunday, 12. July 1998:- You took longer walks than I do and you have a better memory. I lived in Paris for some years before finding out 'Bastille Day' is the night before.

Fireworks are let off so often in June and July, it is hard to know some are the special ones for the 13th, for the Fête de la Bastille. Almost every place in France shoots off fireworks. Where I lived, I could see several towns' shows from my balcony.

Then I met some adventurous people and one year we went to the Champ de Mars for the light and sound and fireworks show there on the 14th. That was something!

It was warm enough, and there are no métro stations really close to it, so thousands of Parisians walked there. At the big field of the Champ itself there was no special illumination, but there was enough ambient light so it wasn't in total darkness.

In this way it was not possible to see there were a quarter or a million people on the grass. The fireworks were super and the 'son' was heroically bombastic and there were great cries of 'oh' and 'ah' and when we thought it was about over, another million francs' worth of explosives were hurled into the sky, as a highlight to the Palais Chaillot and a backlight to the Tour Eiffel.

When it was over a half hour after it should have been over, all us little people walked quietly away in the still and warm darkness, to look for an open bar or café.

That part of the seventh arrondissement is sort of a desert anyway, and the 14th is a holiday - unlike the 13th - so we had to go a long way into the 15th arrondissement before we could find a place for a drink. As a result of the 'Fête' the night before, we only had one.

Regards, Ric

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