July 14 is Bastille Day, a national holiday in France that commemorates the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of Louis XVI’s power and antiquated regime. By storming it, a message was sent—the king’s power needed to go bye bye. It worked, and the event became a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression—the birth of a Republic.
Just like Fourth of July in America, it symbolizes the beginning of a new form of government, and also just like Fourth of July in America, it’s largely celebrated. There is a huge military parade in Paris (the oldest and largest in Europe), and countries like Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, New Zealand and South Africa celebrate with street festivals, flea markets, food, wine and fireworks.
I always remember Bastille Day because my dear sweet mother (Monique) and my grandmother (Mona) are from France! My mother was born in St. Raphael, France. She lived there, Trans-En-Provence and many other places, like Morocco, before she came to the United States when she was 11 years old. I spoke with my mom a little bit about her experience there. Most of what she said I already knew, but thought it would be cool to share a little about my family with you.
What’s your favorite French food? Tomates farcies. Tomatoes stuffed with meat and herbs.
What’s your favorite memory of growing up in France? Staying with my grandmother and eating her cooking. She used to take me mushroom picking in the woods. She knew which ones to pick.
If you could go back to France right this second, what’s the first thing you would do? Visit the countryside to see the lavender, farms and greenery. Walk on the beaches.
What do you miss most about France? My family, the beauty of the country and the sea.
What would you tell someone deciding to visit France for the very first time? Visit outside of the cities. Eat at small restaurants because they have the best food. Visit the old sections of the cities—the old buildings, fountains and markets are beautiful, and so are the people.
So there you have it. My mom is awesome. And you probably need to book a trip to France, pronto. Or you could whip up some chocolate mousse, light a sparkler and celebrate from your backyard, wherever you may be.