Bastille Eve

photo, fireworks, tour eiffel Fireworks, as not seen on TV tonight.

More Dancing In the Street

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Sunday, 13. July:–  Just before I went to catch the métro to Bastille for tonight's grand revolutionary ball celebrating the eve of the historic turnover of the world's fortunes I received an email forward from Alan Pavlik in Hollywood. It was copy of an article in the LA Times by Susan Nagel, an American professor interested in the lives and times of French aristos, the very people we were going to be kissing goodbye tonight, metaphorically.

Little did the good professor realize that the current head aristo was holding a meeting at the Grand Palais to announce his Union of the Mediterranean to 37 invited guests, princes, kings and prime ministers, who he hoped would participate. As soon as I was sitting in the métro the squawker said that security had sown up the entire area. Would I be able to change at the Champs–Elysées to the line one métro?


photo, july column, place de la bastilleJuly column at Bastille on 13 July.

This Mediterranean union is a good thing but Sarkozy is the only one who believes in it. You could tell from the TV–news that Angela Merkle was just kidding him along. Anyway, according to the professor's article the aristos still living in France are still miffed that the people took this country away from them 219 years ago.

The professor said that they put on black armbands and wear black ties and ride in black cars to their country estates where they have black curtains in all the windows and their serving serfs all wear black, and they sit around this holiday weekend drinking Champagne and muttering about the dreadful state of affairs in this country since the Louis' quit being absolute monarchs and they got turfed out of their free rent days at Versailles.

A lot of folks have noticed that the aristos dressed in court fancies are seldom seen at the popular balls held all over France every 13 and 14 of July. The professor says they are not the only ones tired of dancing in the streets. She says lefty Georges Brassens even stayed in bed rather than ogle the military parade on the 14th. So what? So do I.

photo, crowd, champ de mars, 14 july 2008 700,000 reported on the Champ de Mars tonight.

It's a day off, this year on a Monday. Makes it a long weekend, with the 14th being the day after the night before, with popular balls both nights. Who wouldn't stay in bed? Besides you can see the whole thing on TV in the comfort of your tatty bathrobe while eating warm buttered brioches and dipping them in your coffee. Try that standing for hours behind some metal barrier on the Champs–Elysées while cops give you the evil eye!

So, I was a bit surprised by the smallish crowd I found at the Bastille when I got there last night. I was probably a bit early, like the army of spectators sitting on the steps of the Opéra. I was in time to hear some fine music by a Spanish group named Paranoia. They were followed by a troupe from Germany, most likely from Berlin, about 15 of them. You know, if the place was still being run by the Louis' there wouldn't be any German or Spanish groups.

photo, 13 july, place bastille, fete, german group Sunday night at Bastille.

The leader greeted us all and reminded everybody of the historic significance of the place. There was a small cheer. Then he greeted all the Americans present and the nearest 500 folks in front of the stage exploded with shouts and cheers and wiggling their arms in the air. Then the band proceeded to make a lot of music.

Some people were doing dance steps on the cobbles around the place where the music fans weren't so dense. The weather was dry and it was warm enough. The sky changed from blue to deep sea and the high street lights came on. Couples pushed their strollers around with little kids sleeping in them. Groups of riot police circulated calmly, not paying much attention to those sipping beers. All the surrounding café terraces were full. The neon signs added color to the falling darkness.

photo, night, cafe daguerre village, terrace Summer café life in the 14th.

Music under sky in the place of the bad old Bastille. It probably gets quite a lot more interesting the later it gets, but for me, I got the photos I went to get. One of these years I'll stay longer.

My bungled report about the 14. July fireworks is on the Café page.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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