Bastille Day is a French holiday that commemorates the Storming of the Bastille on July 14 1789, a crucial part of the French Revolution which eventually led to the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, the abolition of feudalism and the transformation of France into a democratic and secular society. The National Day is celebrated in France with a grand military parade that runs along the Champs Elysee, but here in New York City, the largest celebration is organized by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF): Bastille Day on 60th Street. A city tradition for twenty years, the outdoor affair stretches over three blocks and offers Francophiles the 4Cs:
Delectable fresh strawberry tarts at Francois Payard’s booth
And lots of them. New York City’s favorite French chefs and eateries were well-represented at the fête so you could find an excellent sampling of French food (and some food with the word french in it, if you know what I mean). There were croissants, cannelés, crepes and macarons at every turn.
French girls have that je ne sais quoi, and it inspires admiration and envy all year round. So if you’re heading out for Bastille Day, why not put on your chicest outfit and celebrate in earnest? Good news: you can repurpose your red, white and blues from last week.
…cars, that is. The Greater New York Citroën and Velosolex Touring Club also comes out to play on Bastille Day with a procession that concludes right across Fifth Avenue on 60th Street. The collection of classic French cars with names like Slomo and Escargo are selfie bait. One of them even came with a pair of folksy musicians.
The day’s programs offered numerous ways to immerse oneself in French culture, from language lessons, to a performance from the Broadway musical An American in Paris, to a live soccer screening of the Euro Final between France and Portugal. If the day’s activities left you wanting more, you can sign up for a membership with FIAF, which offers access to a number of fun programs throughout the year like French film screenings and wine socials.
Bastille Day on 60th Street is a great French party, but it’s also just a great summer party. There are balloons, grills and lemonade stands interspersed with fancy French pickles and lollipops — a perfect summer outing for the entire family. We’d love to hear if you made it out there on Sunday and what your favorite part was. And if you didn’t, make sure you mark your calendars for the next one. Vive la France!
Pair it with:
Brunch at Little Collins
Before you head out to the Bastille Day on 60th Street celebration with the express purpose of consuming, in one afternoon, more cream and butter than you’ve had all year, steel your tummy with something healthy and delicious. Stop by Little Collins, a little Australian cafe named after a bustling street in Melbourne. We’re big fans of Australian coffee culture, but their fresh, light cuisine is also a frequent favorite (case in point: the food pairing on this post). At Little Collins you’ll find a small offering of dishes that are deceptively simple, but include creative touches like a refreshing basil mascarpone mix on top of an egg and potato tortilla. It’s a satisfying way to start your day, whether you’re headed to a French street fair or not. And don’t forget to get a cup of coffee, it’s excellent.
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