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To the Bal Citizens!

photo: blvd montparnasse

The Boulevard Montparnasse on Saturday night.

215 Years of Revolution

Paris:– Saturday, 10. July:– Throughout most of France the 'Fête Nationale' to celebrate the fall of the Bastille is a two–day affair. If the weather is good everybody turns out to party and if the weather is not good, the party goes on, if damply. As of this writing the weather outlook is not bright, or warm.

The 'fête' begins on the eve of the date, on Tuesday, 13. July – with a major party time. The following morning is spent at the Champs–Elysées watching the traditional military parade – this year with Queen Elizabeth – or watching it on television, if the weather is iffy.

After the parade the troops spread around the city, to be treated to picnics by the residents. More popular 'bals,' including those of the firemen, happen in the evening. This is also the evening of the fireworks at the Tour Eiffel. If you get to the Champ de Mars you can't miss it.

Radio–news announced that there will be 40 popular 'bals' in the Ile–de– France region to celebrate Bastille Day. These take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the locations of some are mentioned below.

La Fête, Tuesday, 13. July

The city wants you to listen, to sing, but above all, to dance at its 'grand bal populaire' at the Bastille. The balloon goes up at 19:00 to offer you a bit of tango, songs, 'musette,' salsa, rock, Latino, and – disco!

Citizens, to the bal! Lights will be strung from trees, café terraces will be included, to give thephoto: tabac, blvd montparno original revolutionary place a cozy feeling of being a small village fête, which might be possible if it weren't for the size of the place.

There will be two focal points – one being the 'Grande Scène' on the central part of the Boulevard Richard Lenoir, starting at 20:00 with three themes – tango with the Grand Orchestre de Juan José Mosalini, take in 'musette' with the 'Grand' Orchestre de Jérôme Richard, and lastly, starting at 23:00 hop to the 'Disco à Bastille' by the DJ 'RV,' famous for crazy Follivores nights.

The other, a Latino scene, is above the Arsenal Port between the Boulevard Bourdon and the Boulevard de la Bastille. This is supposed to be like Havana's Tropicana cabaret, featuring the very famous Rémy Kolpa Kopoul of Radio Nova, and the Favela Chic team, with Jérôme Gringo de Parada, Tchicky al Dente and M. Zero. Playtime is from 21:15 to 00:30.

After these two 'big' scenes, there are to be three others, in front of the terraces of the Café Français, the Café des Phares and the Café Le Bastille. At these animation begins at 19:00 and will feature the Môme Caoutchouc, Jungle Juice and the Tigresses Diatoniques.

Ah, the Tigresses Diatoniques! These are nine accordeons, put to the work of reinventing 60 songs from way back when. At the Café des Phares the Môme Caoutchouc has a 'musette' repertoire featuring such 19th century hits as 'La Goualante du Pauvre Jean.' Okay, they do swing and gypsy jazz too. Finally, you are not supposed to miss Jungle Juice at the Bastille café.

There are to be three other popular 'bals' on Tuesday evening. Here are their locations:–

  • Hôtel de Ville, Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, Paris 4. From 19:00 to 00:30.
  • Mairie of the 3rd Arrondissement, near the Rue de Bretagne, Paris 3. From 19:00 to 02:30.
  • Place Maurice Chevalier, 1. Place Maurice Chevallier, Paris 20. From 21:30 to 01:00.
Firemen's Bals

The Paris brigade of the sapeurs–pompiers organize 13 'bals polulaires' within the city at their fire stations and 27 others out in the suburbs on Tuesday, 13. July and/or on Wednesday, 14. July. You may be asked for a donation at the entry, but it'll be worth it if you are prepared for a sort of down–home 'Paris–style' fête chez les pompiers. Do not expect any high–tech razzle–dazzle – just some fun.

  • Rousseau, 21.Rue du Jour, Paris 1
  • Sévigné, 7. Rue de Sévigné, Paris 4
  • Colombier, 11. Rue duphoto: july col, pl bastille Vieux Colombier, Paris 6
  • Blanche, 28. Rue Blanche, Paris 9
  • Landon, 12. Rue Philippe de Girard, Paris 10
  • Chaligny, 57. Boulevard Diderot, Paris 12
  • Masséna, 37. Boulevard Masséna, Paris 13
  • Port–Royal, 55. Boulevard Port–Royal,
    Paris 13
  • Grenelle, 6. Place Violet, Paris 15
  • Champerret, 3. Boulevard de l'Yser, Paris 17
  • Montmartre, 12. Rue Carpeaux, Paris 18
  • Bitche, 2. Place de Bitche, Paris 19
  • Ménilmontant, 47. Rue Saint–Fargeau,
    Paris 20
  • Clichy, 137. Boulevard Jean Jaurès, Clichy–sur–Seine
  • Vincennes, 2. Rue de l'Eglise, Vincennes
  • Pantin, 93–95. Rue Cartier Bresson, Pantin
  • Levallois, 1. Avenue Georges Pompidou, Lavallois–Perret
  • Issy, 75. Boulevard Galliéni, Issy–les– Moulineaux
The Bastille Day Parade, Wednesday, 14. July

The traditional military parade on the Champs–Elysées celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 'Entente Cordiale' for this year's edition. For the occasion, 'Les Anglais' have been invited to parade. Expect to see the Royal Marine band, 106 members of the Grenadier Guards, the King's troop and Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, and the crack flyers of the 'Red Arrows,' who will share the skies with France's air force.

All of this takes place on the Champs–Elysées, between the Etoile and the Place de la Concorde. Although it is not a 'rule,' it often rains. This doesn't deter military fans from turning out in force, which is complicated a bit because the nearest Métro stations are closed. A little walking will be required.

Getting to the parade area early is also recommended. If you are late, short, or both, you will see far less than watching the parade on television.

photo: le domeThe troops assemble in the area of the Arc de Triomphe at 9:15 and are inspected by their officers for awhile until the Président of France, Jacques Chirac, arrives at 10:00. The army's generals present the troops to their boss, while the military governor of Paris looks on.

At 10:16 the president receives the army's honors at the viewing stand in the Place de la Concorde. Queen Elizabeth II is France's honored guest this year, and I assume Her Majesty will be sharing the viewing stand with Jacques.

Music by the Royal Marines and the Garde Républicaine is scheduled for 10:20, to be followed by the beginning of the aerial fly–overs at 10:30. Then, led by the Grenadier Guards, 4000 troops begin marching down the avenue at 10:35.

The King's troop and Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment should be visible at 11:05 and be closely followed by the 244–strong cavalry of the Garde Républicaine. At 11:10 the helicopter units fly over, and the motorized units appear at 11:15 while the second air parade happens overhead. On the ground the tanks pass and the motorcycles bring up the rear.

The Red Arrows fly over at 11:35 to close the show. The Président and his guests leave Concorde at 11:45, and probably go to the Elysée Palace where the traditional garden party is held for 5000 close friends.

If you have been able to see anything, you will have seen more than 4000 troops and civilians from 51 units, 97 aircraft, 339 big horses, 323 vehicles, and about 350 musicians from six formations.

If you have seen everything because you watched the parade on TV – on both TFI and France–2 – you can still see the troops in person because they will be available for inspection after the parade in each arrondissement, probably at or near the Mairies. If the weather permits, Parisians will be mobilizing picnics for the troops. Six military or pompier bands will be furnishing music for these encounters.

La Fête, Wednesday, 14. July

There are to be three more 'bals' on Wednesday evening. Don't forget that some of the firemen's 'bals' are on Wednesday too. The firemen's locations are above, the others are here:–

  • Mairie of the 13th Arrondissement, Parvis of the Mairie, Paris 13. Starting at 19:00.
  • Mairie of the 11th Arrondissement, Parvis of the Mairie, Paris 11 Starting at 19:00..
  • Arènes de Montmartre, 27. Rue Chappe, Paris 18. Starting at 19:00.
Fireworks, Wednesday, 14. July

The Ville de Paris is promising an 'original' fireworks spectacular this year, accompanied with real–time music from an orchestra with 85 musicians rather than the usual electronic razzle–dazzle. The time for this is 22:30, and the Place is the huge Champ de Mars. No Métros are really close, so everybody gets to walk.

The musicians will be in a tent directly underneath the tower, to play 'Un grand bouquet blanc,' composedphoto: paris plage by Etienne Perruchon. Other stars include the pianist François–René Duchâble, accompanied by the Orchestre des Lauréats du Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, directed by Laurent Petitgirard.

The show should last until 11:00 or 11:10. Fireworks will be launched from Trocadéro, the Pont d'Iéna and the bushes lining the Champ de Mars. When it's over everybody will try and leave at once. This means up to 350,000 people may be trying to get on Métros at the closest stations.

You either have to leave early, or should be prepared to wait at least a half hour. Be relaxed about this because the Métro will carry everybody away given enough time. Bonne fête!

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