Bastille Day (Part 1)
Paris Travel Blog› entry 12 of 13 › view all entries
We woke up the next day, which was Bastille Day. While getting ready for the day, we were able to see different French Military aircraft flying overhead. Through our screen-less window, which opened up to the busy street below, we counted as many as 14 jets and larger aircraft fly in formation toward the Bastille Day parade. Outside, we saw military personal beginning to block off our street. We later learned that our street was one of the streets used to stage the various artillery vehicles once they finished their portion of the parade route. We saw some French children lifted from the street to take a quick tour of one of the heavily armored vehicles. We stopped for petit dejuener at a café next to our hotel, and watched the parade on television as we enjoyed our delicious ouvre brouillent (scrambled eggs) with ham and cheese.
Once we got past this unexpected spectacle, we hit our first museum: the Musee D’Orsay.
Some Paris luck allowed for a walk without rain through the Place de la Concorde.
The first part of the Champs-Elysees seemed nearly vacant - the Bastille Day parade had dispersed, leaving behind barricades, portable bathrooms, and all sorts of trash. We stopped to have a quick bite at one of the few open street vendors. A bite of French hotdog (served in a warmed baguette, with Dijon mustard, of course!) and a crepe with ham (jambon) and cheese (fromage) was absolutely the most delicious street food we’ve ever tasted.
Our Paris Museum passes allowed us to skip the ticket line, and we climbed the Arc for our first birds-eye view of Paris, which was well worth the effort.
Because rain threatened our plans for most of the day, yet the threat had only interrupted our Louvre plans, we feared that the Bastille Day fireworks at the Eiffel tower would be cancelled. We decided to gamble a bit and based on some advice from an English-speaking Parisian we had met the previous day, we planned a picnic at the grand lawn facing the Tower. We purchased baguettes of chicken and ham, some cheese and crackers, and of course a bottle of wine. We were at the site at around 9pm. The place was filling fast. We managed to find a spot for two directly in front of the Tower. As the light faded and the clouds starting to turn pink, the Tower’s light were ignited. They burned with a low-light glow at first then slowly brightened to an unforgettable golden hew. The revolving spot light at the Tower’s summit gave it a timeless feel.
As if a vacation in Paris wasn’t romantic enough, fireworks (feu d’artifice) beneath the Tour Eiffel on Bastille Day was taking it to an unbelievable extreme. The music began as Charles Azvenour began to croon, and the red, white, and blue plumes started low behind the tour, gradually rising until they presented a bright white light which silhouetted the entire tower.
After the fireworks ended, we witnessed the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of people leaving the park. We strolled along, with no particular destination in mind, to watch the scene unfold. Seeing cars, bicycles, mopeds, pedestrians, all sharing the roads was quite a sight. Paris seemed to effortlessly absorb these people within a few blocks. Where did they all go? What were they going to do next, we wondered? We walked around several new neighborhoods near the 5th, 6th, and 7th arondissments, and enjoyed the wandering small streets and 18th century residences. We attempted to board the Metro at one point, but discovered a huge crowd of people stretching well outside the platform. We eventually crossed the Seine, walked back towards the L’Ouevre to capture some night photos. We then walked all the way back to our hotel at the Bastille (quite a long journey from the Tour Eiffel).