France marks National Day, a feast of French spirit

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The French National Day commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, as well as the Fete de la Federation which celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790. Celebrations are held throughout France. The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Elysees in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, along with other French officials and foreign guests.

Service men and women from various units, including cadets from military schools, the French Navy and the French Foreign Legion, participate in the parade. The parade ends with the Paris Fire Brigade. Military aircraft fly over the parade route during the parade. The French president opens the parade and reviews the troops and thousands of people line the route. Other people spend the day quietly and eat a celebratory meal or picnic with family and close friends.

For, first of all, Bastille Day is a day of celebrations of French culture. Many large-scale public events are held such as communal meals, dances, parties and fireworks.

The Bastille is a medieval fortress and prison in Paris. Many people in France associated it with the harsh rule of the Bourbon monarchy in the late 1700s. On July 14, 1789, troops stormed the Bastille. This was a pivotal event at the beginning of the French Revolution. Fête de la Fédération was held on July 14, 1790. This was a way to celebrate the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in France.

Official celebrations were held in Paris on June 30, 1878, to honor the Republic of France. On July 14, 1879, more official celebrations were held. These included a military review in Longchamp near Paris and celebrations all over the country. A politician named Benjamin Raspail proposed that July 14 should become a holiday in France in 1880. The law was enacted on July 6, 1880. Bastille Day was a public holiday for the first time on July 14, 1880.

The military parade in Paris has been held every year since 1880, except during World War II. The Free French Forces paraded on this date in London, England from 1940 until 1944. Jean Michel Jarre held a concert in Paris that attracted one million people, then the largest recorded crowd at an outdoor concert, in 1979. Special celebrations were held for the 200th anniversary of the French revolution in 1989. The French football team became world champions on July 12, 1998. This sparked celebrations throughout France on Bastille Day.

Bastille Day celebrations are held in French communities and the French Institutes around the world.

Sisteron, Cote d'Azur, southeastern France
Sisteron, Cote d’Azur, southeastern France

Key world player, artists’ nursery and cuisine ace

A key player on the world stage and a country at the political heart of Europe, France was one of the founding fathers of European integration as the continent sought to rebuild after the devastation of World War II.

France’s colonial past is a major contributing factor in the presence of a diverse multicultural population. It is home to more than five million people of Arab and African descent. Actually, there are more people speaking French in Africa than in France.

France has produced some of the continent’s most influential writers and thinkers from Descartes and Pascal in the 17th century, Voltaire in the 18th, Baudelaire and Flaubert in the 19th to Sartre and Camus in the 20th.

In the last two centuries it has given the art world the works of Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse and Braque, to name but a few.

It is also famous for its strong culinary tradition. France produces more than 250 cheeses and some of the world’s best-loved wines.3789_paris

Did you know that…

  • French is the second most commonly taught foreign language, after English?
  • France is the most visited country in the world with 75 million tourists yearly. 83 million tourists came in 2012?
  • The most visited attraction in Paris isn’t the Eiffel Tower (5.5 million), or the Louvre (5 million), but Disneyland Paris at 13 million people?
  • France is home to 28 UNESCO World Heritage sites?
  • Mont-Blanc is the highest peak in Europe?
  • France has the highest number of ski resorts?
  • France has won the most Nobel Prizes for Literature than any other country in the world, and the second most in mathematics?
  • Famous French inventions include: the hot air balloon, the submarine, and the parachute?
  • Crayola is a French word that means “oily chalk”?
  • The French had an early version of the Internet called Minitel, where as long as 1984, they could pay bills and shop at home using the Minitel service?
  • France was the first country to introduce the license plate?
  • Paris is nicknamed “city of lights,” but lights actually refers to the number of intellectuals who live there?
  • Paris was originally a Roman city called Lutetia?
  • Jim Morrisson and Oscar Wilde were buried in the Paris cemetery called Pere Lachaise?
  • The Eiffel Tower is painted every 7 years?
  • During WWII, when Hitler visited Paris, the French cut the lift cables on the Eiffel Tower so that Hitler would have to climb the steps if he wanted to reach the top?
  • The French government gives medals to citizens who have “successfully raised several children with dignity”?
  • 1 in 5 people in France has experienced depression, making it the most depressed
    country in the world?
  • There’s a Coffee Shop in France where not saying “hello” and “please” makes your coffee more expensive?
  • In France, nearly 96% of high schools have condom vending machines?
  • For 214 years until 2012, it was illegal in Paris, France, for women to wear trousers?
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