Paris was in a state of high agitation in the early months of the French revolution. In the spring of 1789, rather than dissolving, the Estates-General transformed itself into a constituent National Assembly.
In July, King Louis XVI called in fresh troops and dismissed his popular Minister, Necker. On the morning of July 14, the people of Paris seized weapons from the armory at the Invalides and marched on an ancient Royal fortress, the Bastille. After a bloody skirmish with the troops, the crowd broke into the Bastille and freed the prisoners who were being held there.
The storming of the Bastille signaled the first victory of the people of Paris against a symbol of the Ancien Régime. After they took it, they demolished it.
The Fête de la Fédération on July 14, 1790, celebrated the first anniversary of the insurrection with great pomp. In Paris, Talleyrand said Mass at the Altar of the Fatherland, on the Champ de Mars.
It wasn’t until the Third Republic that the Deputy for the Seine Department, Benjamin Raspail, moved that July 14 be named the national holiday of the Republic. Parliament passed an act on July 6, 1880.
Every commune or locality in France held its own celebration, beginning with a torchlight parade on the evening of the 13th. On the morning of the 14th, church bells or gun salutes announced military parades, which were inevitably followed by feasts, spectacles, games, dancing and fireworks.
Following the long nightmare of World War I, the 14th of July, 1919 was the occasion of a great victory celebration, and, following the end of World War II, Bastille Day, 1945 was preceded by three days of rejoicing.
I love France. I love Paris. I love the south of France. And I love the French. They not only came to our aid during our war of Independence, and were very kind to out Lost Generation in the 1920s, they had the very good sense to refuse George W. Bush’s order to take part in our attack on Iraq. The French are notoriously independent people, and naturally eccentric, and they have authentic style, and make great literature, paintings, music, films, wine and food.
Tomorrow, July 14, the French will once again celebrate Bastille Day – in Los Angeles, and other American cities as well as all over France.
The fourth annual official Bastille Day Los Angeles Festival will be held on July 17, from noon to 8 p.m., .in the gardens of the Page Museum at 5801 Wilshire Boulevard, just east of LACMA, off Curzon. www.bastilledaylosangeles.com
Everyone is invited to take part in the celebration, which is designed to reaffirm the undying ties between the French and American people and to highlight the French heritage and culture. Supported by the French Consulate in Los Angeles, it is a great yearly rendez-vous for Angelenos and their French compatriots.
Last year’s celebration included a ’Provencal Petanque Tournament’ under the pine trees, a Parisian Waiter’s Race, street performers, Tahitian dancers, scenic and portrait painters, comedians, singers, and an authentic French Market with vendors, sidewalk cafes and, of course, gastronomic delights!
There are also related exhibitions: “The Making of Furniture” at the J. Paul Getty Museum, “The Cutting Edge of Fashion” at the Hammer Museum, “Histoires d’Eau – Photography by Karine Laval” at MB Fine Arts in West Hollywood, Pierre Marie Brisson: Museum Collections at Timothy Yarger Fine Art In Beverly Hills, Basquit at MOCA, and Artnight at 18th Street with French artist Sandy Amerio on July 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the 18th Street Arts Center at 1639 18th Street in Santa Monica
There will be music tomorrow night: A Gershwin Celebration with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, at 8 p.m. at the Hollywood Bowl, and “Putumayo presents Mali: Tinariwen” at 7:30 p.m. at the Santa Monica Pier Twilight Dance Series.
Jeunes Chœurs d’Ile-de-France will perform Friday, July 15, at noon at California Plaza, the Watercourt Stage in downtown Los Angeles, and Ravel’s Concerto will be featured on July 21 at the Bowl. www.grandperformances.org
And The Actor’s Gang will peform the French classic, Tartuffe, from July 21 to August 13 at 9070 Venice Boulevard in Culver City. www.theactorsgang.comFor more information, visit www.bastilledaylosangeles.com