Bastille Day Celebrations
July 12-14, 2013
Bastille Day, celebrated in France as their equivalent of our 4th of July, will once again be celebrated in this "Most French of American Cities." A series of events commemorating the French Independence Day are scheduled for the weekend of July 12-14 in and around the French Quarter and the French-founded Faubourg St. John neighborhood of New Orleans.
The Alliance Française of New Orleans has planned a full slate of events for that weekend that starts with a spectacular fireworks display (just like they do in France) on Friday, July 12 and ends with a bartenders and waiters race on Sunday afternoon, July 14 (Bastille Day). Across town, in the historic Faubourg St. John neighborhood alongside Bayou St. John, the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association will be staging their annual Bastille Day celebration as well.
Here are the details on both Bastille Day events:
What more appropriate places could there be to celebrate the French national holiday than in locales bearing names that reflect their French roots: the French Quarter, the French Market and the Faubourg Marigny (Frenchmen Street)? The series of events planned by the Alliance Française reaches out to all of these historic heritage sites and even includes events taking place at St. Louis Cathedral, named for the Patron Saint of France, and the statue of St. Joan of Arc, the French national heroine.
This is the lineup the Alliance has planned for that weekend:
Friday, July 12
- 9:00 p.m.: Fireworks display over the Mississippi River
Saturday, July 13
- 9:00 a.m.: French dog contest at Dutch Alley (Decatur and Dumaine streets) with a celebrity judge to be named
- 10:00 a.m.: Sidewalk parade
- 3:00-8:00 p.m.: Bal du 14 Juillet (14th of July Ball) featuring live music at the Old U.S. Mint
- 8:00 p.m. on: After Bastille Day Party at Café Istanbul in The Healing Center, 2372 St. Claude Avenue
Sunday, July 14
- 9:00 a.m.: Wreath-laying ceremony at the St. Joan of Arc Statue, Decatur and North Peters streets
- 11:00 a.m.: French Mass at St. Louis Cathedral, followed by lunch at Arnaud's Restaurant (by reservation)
- 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.: Picnic at Washington Square Park (between Frenchmen Street and Elysian Fields Avenue) and a bicycle tour of the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood
- 2:00 p.m.: Cocktail demonstrations at the French Market
- 4:00 p.m.: French Quarter Bartenders and Waiters Race at the French Market
Tentative events include French cocktails and a Pub Crawl on Frenchmen Street and art openings at the Frenchmen Street Art Market and on St. Claude Avenue on Saturday the 13th. Also in the planning stages is a cocktail party and fireworks viewing on the evening of Friday, July 12 on the balcony of Galvez Restaurant, adjacent to Dutch Alley and overlooking the river.
More details on these and other possible events can be found on the Alliance Française of New Orleans website, http://af-neworleans.org, as the dates get closer.
Faubourg St. John Celebration
Bastille Day will be celebrated in the Faubourg St. John neighborhood of New Orleans on Saturday, July 13.
This event, staged every year in mid-July by the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association, takes place in the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon Street, just off Esplanade Avenue near the Fair Grounds Race Course. There is everything that makes a typical New Orleans festival complete: food, music, art and...of course...fun! And, best of all, it's FREE!
Adult beverages from Pal's Lounge and Swirl will be available, along with culinary delicacies from nearby Café Degas and Santa Fe Restaurant. The festivities will take place from 5:00-9:00 p.m. and the event is open to the public.
This is a family-oriented event with fun things for the kids to do, including arts and crafts and games. All of the neighborhood's stores and businesses actively participate. There is an art market where locally produced works of art can be purchased and stages where live music will be performed.
There are also pétanque games going on during the Bastille Day celebration. Similar to the Italian bocce and English lawn bowling, pétanque is played by nearly 20 million people worldwide, 17 million in France alone.
Visitors without their own means of transportation who want to take part in the festivities can catch the Esplanade bus or a taxicab to the site. It's just a short ride from the French Quarter and downtown hotels.
For more detailed information, visit the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association website at www.fsjna.org.
To view a photo album from the 2012 Bastille Day celebration, go to the following link: http://fsjna.org/2012/07/bastille-day-in-faubourg-st-john/
History of Bastille Day
On July 14, 1789 more than 8,000 men and women stormed a prison fortress in Paris known as the Bastille, demanding the release of the political prisoners being held there, plus the prison's store of weapons. The storming of the Bastille was the spark that set off the French Revolution, an event that had a significant impact not only on France itself but its colonies and former colonies as well, including New Orleans.
Arising from the tumult and chaos of the French Revolution was a young, ambitious general named Napoleon Bonaparte. In order to help finance his wars in Europe, Napoleon sold off his country's largest North American colony in what became known as the Louisiana Purchase. With that 1803 transaction, New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana – plus a vast swath of land between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains – became part of the United States.
Bastille Day is commemorated in hundreds of cities and nations around the world as the French National Holiday, equivalent to the American 4th of July. It is traditionally celebrated with fireworks displays and other festivities that pay tribute to those cities' and nations' French heritage. In North America it is celebrated in cities like New Orleans that were founded by the French and in the Canadian Province of Quebec, explored and founded by the French a century or two before New Orleans.
About Faubourg St. John
The Faubourg St. John neighborhood lies astride Bayou St. John opposite City Park. In the city's earliest years, the bayou served as "the back door to New Orleans." French explorers, followed by the first settlers in the early 1700s, paddled their canoes down the bayou from Lake Pontchartrain into the growing French settlement of La Nouvelle Orléans.
By the 1800s, Faubourg (French for "Suburb") St. John had developed into quiet, residential section of the city that was once the home of many families of French Creole aristocracy. Many of the historic houses they lived in, on the bayou itself and along Esplanade Avenue, are still visible and in use today.
Two historic houses open to the public in the 2300 block of Esplanade Avenue preserve vestiges of the old French Creole culture: The Degas House and The Museum of Free People of Color. The Degas House was built in 1852 and, from 1872-1873, was the residence of the French Impressionist artist Edgar Degas.
The Museum of Free People of Color is a repository for old photographs, documents and other artifacts of the "Free People of Color" who lived and prospered in New Orleans in antebellum times. Maintained by members of the McKenna family, descendents of Creole aristocracy, the house and museum is open for tours by appointment.
Another historic house in the Faubourg St. John neighborhood that is open to the public is the Pitot House on Bayou St. John. Built in the late 1700s and one of the last remaining examples of 18th century Creole Colonial architecture, it was the home of James Pitot, New Orleans' first American mayor after the Louisiana Purchase from 1810 to 1819.
Historic St. Louis No. 3 Cemetery houses the tombs and crypts of many of the neighborhood's oldest families. The cemetery is open for guided or self-guided tours during daylight hours.
More detailed information about Faubourg St. John can be found at the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association website, www.fsjna.org.