Bastille Day 2017: A Franco-American Celebration
by Lisa Michaux, Tastemaker in Residence
I’m blessed that this is the fifth time I have celebrated Bastille Day in Paris. Each year has been different, see my 2016 Bastille Day in Paris, and 2017 was no exception. In honor of the 100 year anniversary of America’s involvement in WWI, France’s new President Emmanuel Macron invited President Trump to join the festivities. And since Paris is always a good idea, Trump said oui, oui!
With the arrival of Tump and his wife Melania on July 13, security around the city was heightened. In preparation for Macron and Trump’s dinner at Le Jules Verne restaurant in the heart of the Eiffel Tower, the building and grounds were closed to the public in the afternoon.
Our apartment is a few blocks from the Tower and we knew something was up because of the din of helicopters circling the area—a rare sight and sound in Paris.
On July 14th, we took a pass on the parade that marches from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées to the Place de la Concord, but were able to see some of the military regiments decked in their dress uniforms making their way to the festivities.
After the morning parade, Parisians love to picnic along the Seine and eventually make their way to the Champ du Mars—the large green space in front of the Eiffel Tower—in preparation for the evening concert and fireworks display. This year we hosted friends from Minnesota that will be joining us on bike trip in the Alps and to watch stage 17 of the Tour de France. In honor of the Franco-American theme, I had Bastille Day-themed plates and American flag napkins. Ironically, the napkins were purchased in Paris and the plates were brought from home.
For dinner we visited one of our favorite restaurants, La Fontaine de Mars. Barack and Michelle Obama dined here during their trip to Paris in 2009, so we felt it was a bipartisan move on our part to eat here as well. We enjoyed confit de canard, chicken with morels, and beef tartare accompanied by champagne, rosé and a lovely Gigondas red. The restaurant was buzzing and provided great service and delightful people watching.
After dinner we walked just a few blocks to watch the fireworks that were set off below (and from!) the Eiffel Tower. It was spectacular to see the display with the backdrop of the grandiose ironwork of the structure. We were also close enough to hear the orchestra playing and to revel in the meticulously timed explosions that danced along with the music.
As a native Minnesotan, I especially enjoyed the fireworks display when the Tower was purple—I couldn’t help but wonder if it was for our own Prince.
I can’t wait to celebrate my next Bastille Day in Paris!