Monday, July 14 (Bastille Day)

Bastille Day is a national holiday in France and is celebrated annually on July 14th. This holiday represents the day that the monarchy was overthrown in 1789. A mob of citizens, assisted by royal troops, attacked, captured and destroyed the Bastille prison. This prison was a target for the mob, because it held prisoners that were arrested in secret, based on the royal court's decision, without accusation or a trial. After Bastille was captured, the prisoners were freed and the government was overthrown, leading to a Democracy.

Every year on Bastille Day, a military parade takes place along the Champs Elysees, a famous street in Paris. This parade was unlike any you would ever see in the United States. It meant business; there was no horsing around. Parades in the U.S. are carnival-like, with big floats, singing and dancing. They are fun to watch, and they don't try to symbolize military strength. This parade was much different, but still as enjoyable as American parades. It was meant for the French military to show off its strength to its citizens. Jets flew overhead, releasing red, white and blue smoke, creating the French flag in the cloudless sky. Numerous fighter jets and cargo planes flew above the parade as the crowd marveled at t hem. Then many groups of police, soldiers and firefighters marched through the streets, with their unique uniforms and hats. The President (Chirac) even rode through, waving at the cheering crowd. The marching bands played patriotic songs, as the soldiers marched down the street.

My favorite part came next - various types of military equipment rode down the street, including tanks, rocket launchers and jeeps. The crowd marveled at these, and took pride in the strength of their country. When it ended, everyone headed home and prepared to party at the fire stations, and watch the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. I greatly enjoyed this parade, but still like the atmosphere of American parades better. ~David

David is right - this was a very different type of parade from what we're used to at home. This was purely a military parade - no fun and games. The people were proud, but not openly patriotic. No one was carrying or waving flags, they weren't singing with the music, and the applause was unenthusiastic. It seemed like people were primarily curious to see the uniforms, airplanes and large military equipment being displayed. We asked a few people their thoughts about Bastille Day - people seemed to think of this day mostly as the start of the French summer holiday period. Apparently, Paris empties out tomorrow as families travel to the beach or mountain resorts of France. ~Steve

Distance Walked: 4.90 miles
























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