Paris...celebrating the National Holiday

Trip Start Jul 08, 2013
Trip End Aug 10, 2013

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's Bastille Day or as the Parisians call it, le 14 juilette. Bastille Day celebrate the day that the Parisians stormed the Bastille fort, thus beginning the French Revolution. It is a national holiday with many fun things to do throughout the day so I woke up early to get started. Down to the Champs-Elysee I went to see the military parade, a Parisian tradition. Apparently everyone in Paris had the same idea as me and despite the fact that the street is too miles long it was packed! I couldn't see anything over people's shoulders (darn you height) but noticed the cafe I was standing in front had a sign that said "see the parade from the second floor". Brilliant! So as well as a great view of the street I also got a tasty french breakfast of croissant and coffee. I had to sacrifice seeing the planes flying overhead but I figured the parade would be worth it...unfortunately it wasn't. I must have missed the part where they march the troops and cavalry men because the parade consisted of a bunch of tanks and military vehicles. Kind of I headed down into the thronging masses, caught two airplanes flying overhead, then promptly got lost trying to get out of the overwhelming crowd. Eventually found my way to a not so crowded subway and decided to head to a smaller museum which I was hoping wouldn't be as crowded.

I chose the Musee National du Moyen Age, the Middle Ages Museum or Cluny Museum. The building was amazing itself...the only surviving Roman Thermal Bath monument north of Italy and an ancient Hotel Cluny built in the 15th century. The museum housed some amazing tapestries, including the famous Lady and the Unicorn, and many religious artifacts from the 5th to the 15th centuries. Some of the sculptures and stained glass windows were stunning! After, I made my own pilgrimage to the tomb of Victor Hugo, one of my idols. His tomb is housed in the vast Pantheon, where the great men of France have come to rest. The Pantheon is massive, the top level being decorated with beautiful carved ceilings and pillars, and large paintings of the great moments in Frances history...including the story of Joan of Arc. The tombs below were a rabbit warren of small rooms where the sarcophagus's of the great men are surprisingly simple Compared to the pomp and splendor of Napoleon's tomb, these seem quiet and dignified. I nearly walked right past the room where Victor Hugo lay at rest because of its simplicity. I thought it would be grander... It was a lovely moment to be able to thank him for inspiring my passion for Paris and, indirectly, my passion for musicals. His story still moves me to tears and I was happy to see him laid to rest in the same room as Alexandre Dumas and, of all people, Louis Braille.

After my visit, I decided to collect some things for a picnic dinner to eat down by the Eiffel Tower. A giant panini sandwich of eggplant, feta and tomato, a bottle of wine, some cherries and a few butter cookies made a perfect dinner for one. As I headed to the Champs de Mars, the park directly in front of the Tower, I got a phone call from the cute waiter, Gerome, from yesterday! Talk about surprised! He insisted on meeting me to watch the fireworks, but he was very far out of Paris and wasn't sure if the traffic would allow it. I said I would find a spot, which I got lucky and actually found on on the very crowded Champs de Mars. I ended up sitting down next to a group of girls from New York and a lady and her daughter from Sidney BC! Small world. We had a great time chatting, eating and people watching, so I wasn't too disappointed when Gerome phoned to say he wasn't going to make it tonight. The traffic was terrible. It didn't really matter though as I was having a blast listening to the concert and then came the fabulous fireworks. They were unbelievable! Going on for about a half hour, the fireworks were set to music, which included great 90's hits and lots of fun french tunes. The Eiffel Tower sparkled in time to the music and also lit itself in the rainbow colours to show its support for the gay marriage law that was just passed here in France. A beautiful moving tribute to the second belief of France's motto: Liberte, equality, fraternity. Liberty, equality, brotherhood.

I took tons of great pics with my fantastic camera then the Americans invited me to walk with them through the city as the thousands of people streamed out of the Champs. We walked along the Seine river, which glittered beautifully at night, and eventually parted at the metro station. I headed home weary but happy, with fireworks bursting in my dreams. Vive la Revolution!
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Dan on

Okay, those fireworks look incredible.

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