Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bastille Day

Tomorrow's Bastille Day a national celebration in France like the 4th of July. Here's the lyrics to the Marseilleise, the national anthem
"Allons enfants de la patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L'étendard sanglant est levé
Entendez vous dans les campagnes,
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Egorger nos fils, nos compagnes!
Aux armes, citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons! Marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!

This celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison which ironically at the time only held a handful of prisoners but the symbolism endures. Historians in the 10th arrondissement discovered that Bastille Day actually started the 13th, the day before, when les citoyens who lived near the infamous Lazare prison for women near present day Gare Saint Lazare demonstrated and stormed the prison against the conditions; filth, rats, pregnant women chained for stealing bread and conditions from a Victor Hugo novel. The citoyens didn't pull it down, the prison lasted until the 20th century and held Mara Hari, but their ire was raised and the next day they followed boulevard Magenta towards the Bastille and managed to overcome the guards and tear it down.

Quasimodo Trailer by moidixmois
The old black and white film, Hunchback of Notre Dame with Charles Laughton as the Hunchback, has a scene set in the Cour des Miracles, the city of the beggars, where a man is brought to the King of thieves. This area Cour des Miracles is long gone but here lived beggars, the poor, the maimed, the sick who lived in the doorways, under ruins. In the stark black and white film arms reach out for succor - poignant and chilling. We watched this last week and it brought home what the Revolution was all about.
Here's hoping you celebrate on Bastille Day raising a glass of something sparkling - me, I'll munch macaroons that ChezPim a food blogger's creating with an Aimée Leduc flavor whatever that is and meet with a lot of French foodies,
Aux armes, cityoyens!
Cara - Tuesday

1 comment:

  1. I realize that it is a special celebration in France, I've heard that they celebrate it with passion, but for me continue being rare that is related to Bastille prison.