Sunday, July 14 marks Bastille Day—the national day of France. This historic date marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, a military fortress and prison. The uprising, held on July 14, 1789, led to the French Revolution and symbolized the struggle against the tyranny of the French monarchy. In France, the day is celebrated with elaborate military parades, colorful fireworks displays, and festive concerts and balls. Local Francophiles can celebrate right here in New York. The Big Apple is hosting a variety of celebrations that run from July 10 -14. They include family-friendly outdoor events and book festivals as well as French fetes, movie screenings, champagne and wine tastings, markets, and beyond.
FIAF's Bastille Day Festival
The French Institute Alliance Française is proud to host its annual Bastille Day festival on July 14, from noon until 5pm on E. 60th Street between Fifth and Lexington Avenues. The festivities will feature live performances by French American talents such as jazz singer Chloe Perrier and electric big band The Blue Dahlia among others. There will be lots of activities for children as well as wine and champagne tastings (tickets are required) for those ages 21 and over, and more. A French-themed market will boast 60 booths, which spotlight French culture and travel. A host of French restaurants, including Epicerie Boulud, Financier Patisserie, Maman, and Mille-Feuille will offer enticing food samples. For more information, visit fiaf.org.
Bal des Pompiers at Jacques Brasserie
For the first time ever, French eatery Jacques Brasserie is bringing the epic "Bal des Pompiers" celebration to New York City. The fete will be held on July 13th from 2-6pm. New Yorkers and tourists are invited to celebrate with street-style French bites and cocktails. A live DJ will get revelers in the spirit. Those who yearn for a bit of healthy competition can participate in a Pétanque tournament in the restaurant’s sidewalk café area. Guests can further get into the spirit by joining in on periodic renditions of “La Marseillaise,” the national anthem of France. As for the cocktails and fare, specialty cocktails ($12) include Bal des Pompiers (Ricard, angostura bitters, simple syrup, and club soda); Jacques 75 (Plymouth Gin, cucumber, mint, and a float of G.H. Mumm); and Lillet Spritz (Lillet Blanc and tonic water garnished with fresh strawberry and mint). Revelers can also enjoy champagne by the glass, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages. Jacques Brasserie’s full food menu will be offered along with specials from the French Street Side Market Grill. The event itself is free. Jacques Brasserie is located at East 85th St., 212-327-2272, jacquesbrasserie.com. Guests can reserve their spots at eventbrite.com/e/bal-des-pompiers-new-york-city-bastille-day-celebration-tickets-62934888947204-206.
Fly Away with Books: Book Festival
French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF) Library has teamed up with Fly Away with Books, a program of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, to offer three creative workshops for kids. Fly Away with Books aims to introduce—or reintroduce—children of all backgrounds to the unique pleasures of reading. The festival will run from July 11th to July 14th and will offer workshops throughout New York City—from Inwood to Dumbo, and beyond. Workshops include animal drawing with illustrator Lucie Brunellière; Full Speed Ahead with Cruschiform, based on the popular book that compares the speeds of animals and vehicles; and creating a garden-themed pop-up card with pop-up book authors Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud. For more information, visit frenchculture.org/events/10006-fly-away-books.
Films on the Green, Cultural Services of the French Embassy
The Cultural Services of the French Embassy will offer a free outdoor festival, Films on the Green, which will screen on July 12th at Tompkins Sq. Park. It will present Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie. Adapted from a graphic novel and nominated in 2014 for a César Award for the Best Animated Film category, Aya Of Yop City narrates the story of young Aya and her friends who reside in West Africa’s French-speaking Abidjan area—an economic capital on the Ivory Coast. When a member of Aya’s group learns that she is pregnant, they all see their lives going awry. The film is free, open to all, and is being presented at Tompkins Sq. Park at E. 10thSt. For more information, visit frenchculture.org.
New York's Old French Quarter with The Municipal Art Society of New York
Join urban planner/cultural historian Laurence Frommer on an exploration of New York’s legendary French Quarter of yesteryear. By the end of the 19th century, the French colony to the south of Washington Square had largely relocated to Chelsea above West 23rd Street. With a much more established presence, the community had several professional groups representing French chefs, waiters, and musicians. French charities and other institutions were also part of the mix and French restaurants flourished in the area. Frommer says that vestiges of this community remain hidden in plain sight. The Church of St. Vincent de Paul (where French singer-songwriter Edith Piaf got married) offered daily masses in French until its recent closing and the area’s French Evangelical Protestant Church is still in operation. The building that housed the French Hospital still survives today as the French Apartments, and the Jeanne D’Arc Home for young women is also a reminder of the vibrant French community that once held sway in the area. Frommer will lead this tour on July 10 from 6 to 8pm. Tickets are required—prices are $30 for non-members/$20 for members. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit mas.org/events/new-yorks-old-french-quarter-in-chelsea/.