Friday, July 14, 2006

Bastille day

Today is July 14, our most important national holiday. It's also known as Bastille day, because it commemorates the day the Bastille prison was attacked by the revolutionaries. This prison was destroyed shortly after it was attacked then replaced under Napoleon by a huge statue of an elephant. Then in 1833, the elephant was replaced by the July Column (La colonne de juillet) on top of which sits the Liberty Genius (le génie de la liberté), a sculpture by Auguste Dumont, that you can see in this photo.

PS: if you're looking for cheap accomodations in Paris between July 20 and 23 click here.


  1. Excellent photo Eric. It's an amazing zoom you have to get so close to the top.

  2. You might want to listen to this while you're making your comments today:
    the Marseillaise

    And of course, if you wish to sing along, here are the words to the Marseillaise in French and English.

  3. Eric, I had intended to ask what you have planned for Bastille Day, but you had already posted it. Thanks also for the information. I prefer the column to the elephant. And, Michael, thanks for the Marseillaise--even tho it is still the 13th here in Minnesota!

  4. Oh, yeah, that's some zoom you got there, Eric! Good job.

    By the way, I never knew that the Genie was naked!

    Well, bonne fête nationale and well... since it falls on a Friday this year, feel free to go celebrate and bring us back lots of pictures of people dancing and stuff ! :)

  5. I just wonder how you could take that pic!
    Where did you take it from? Comon Eric tell us...!

    La prison de la Bastille was a rectangle shape with 8 towers :

    On the west part of the "place de la Bastille", there are marks on the ground showing where the Bastille prison used to be (you can recognize the marks because of the round tower shape).

    A pedestrian crossing close to the "boulevard Henti IV" is also today exactly at the same size and place where a bridge (pont-levis) used to be to enter the Bastille.

    There are 2 or 3 remains of La Bastille you can see in the metro (like on the plateforme of the line number 5).
    Remains of a tower basis of La Bastille have been put in the "square Henri Galli".
    The bridge close to "Place de la Concorde" has been built with stones from La Bastille.

    To know and see more about La Bastille, you can go to the "Musée Carnavalet" where a floor is dedicated to French Revolution.

  6. I think i am going to shock a lot of French people...

    Very few people know it, but Historians know since centuries that "La Bastille" was a very soft prison where only Aristocratic outlaws were allowed to go with the authorization of the king.

    Prisonners were allowed to have visits (including their lovers...), they could bring their own furnitures, they could organize parties, and some "prisoners" were even allowed to go out during the day.
    Some prisoners even refused to be freed, and wanted to stay there for free as long as they could...

    The king Louis XVI had planned to destroy this strange prison, and the Revolution just helped to destroy it faster.

    Don't think life was easy everywhere: most prisons were very hard in Paris, like le Chatelet, La (petite et grande) Force, Vincennes, etc...
    The destruction of La Bastille was just a symbole of freedom, but it shouldn't have been the best one.

    If you are interested, i recommand a book "Gibets, Piloris et Cachots du Vieux Paris" from J.Hillairet (first edition in 1956, but reprint several times)

  7. I've visited the la colonne de juillet many times and taken many photos...none as brilliant as this. Bonne fete!

  8. Have a grand Bastille Day!

  9. Great shot, Eric! Happy Bastille Day!
    I have a special Bastille Day post today.

  10. Happy Bastille Day, Eric! We will celebrate here in Philadelphia all day Saturday at and around the Eastern State Penitentary. I'll try to get over there if it's not too HHH.

  11. Have a great day France!

    the Marseillaise! I don't know why but everytime it was played before a game in World Cup 2006, the commnetator in HK would just go over the history/background of the song and etc, everytime! by now, I know pretty well... ;-)

  12. Happy Holiday, Eric! Have a nice time.

  13. Just received a reminder about the Bastille day celebration @ the White Dog Café. Love the dancing poodles!!

  14. Ujima, you said, "...get over there if it's not too HHH." What is HHH?

    Interesting Haxo about the hotel, I mean, prison!

  15. Ujima, you said, "...get over there if it's not too HHH." What is HHH?

    Interesting Haxo about the hotel, I mean, prison!

  16. La marseillaise...les enfants de mon village la chantent, le 11 novembre, devant notre petit monument aux morts, juste à côté de notre petite église, je peux vous dire que c'est émouvant...

    Je vois que certains sont très cultivés...j'ai entendu dire que la culture c'était comme la confiture, mais je ne sais plus pourquoi... :)

    Dommage qu'il n'y ait pas beaucoup de français sur ce site...

  17. Eric, I've posted a photo especially for you today at Seattle Daily Photo:

    Just a little tie-in to your post from yesterday and to salute all our friends celebrating Bastille Day.

    My, you've captured a great image of this shiny genie against that deep blue sky!

  18. Veuillez accepter mes sincères félicitations à l'occasion du jour de la Bastille!
    Cette photo est superbe! Bravo!

  19. Qu'il est mignon ce génie. Belle prise en tout, car il est haut ce petit !
    How cute is that Angel. Nice shot, as he top of the torch is at 50 m !

    A french native, with english knowledge :)

  20. Yes, nice shot Eric! Bonne fete nationale!

    Michael, thanks for the link to Marseillaise. It made for a nice, multi-sensory celebration of Bastille Day!

  21. Bonne fete. Eric! Quite a few people in my office were humming (ir trying to sing) La Marseillaise this morning! Funny on 4th July noone was singing The Star Spangled Banner...

  22. I enjoy your blog, makes me feel like I'm a tourist myself in my own city ;o)
    Merci beaucoup.

    N'oublions pas de préciser, si nous sommes vraiment parisien, qu'à midi pile, le Génie change pied.
    Il faut bien bien regarder...

    Et notre fête nationale est plus l'éternel recommencement de la Fête de la Fédération du 14 juillet 1790, une grande réunion qui unissait tout le monde, que la célébration de la prise de la Bastille en 1789.
    Ahem, for the Genie switching feet, yes, it's just one of our jokes, Paris folklore ;o)

  23. HHH means hazy,hot and humid, Michael. It's been 90+º and 90+ humidity. I got sick to my stomach when I was out bopping around yesterday.

    We had to memorize the words to the Marseillaise in French class in high school in 1955, and I still remember them.

  24. Salut petit pere, Hi eric,

    A big hug from Chicago where I started celebrating Bastille Day with a major hangover...


    Edouard (et oui, C est Doudou)

  25. Bonne fete, Eric. We will go the Boston Museum of Fine Arts tonight to see "Je vous trouve très beau" during the Boston French Film Festival and celebrate over the weekend at the French Embassy's party.

  26. Ujima: that's amazing! On the other hand, you have people like me who grew up in France but never knew more than the first 3 sentences of La Marseillaise... (In my defense, I should say that we don't go around singing the national anthem all the times in France - or at least didn't used to...) I think as a kid, I found the lyrics extremely bloody and violent and I wasn't too interested in them. But watching parades on the Champs Elysees, now that's another story :-D

  27. Well, I don't know quite how to word it, but my wishes are: Happy Bastille Day! Enjoy your freedom and independence, everyone!

  28. bonne fête. nice shot of the naked genie.

  29. Happy Bastille Day to all my wonderful French and non-French friends living in France! I love you all!!!

    rickemmanuel, i doesn't look like a naked genie, it looks like a naked angel with a toy jack stuck in it's head, as if some 8 year old got pissed off at it while playing jack and just jammed one into the crown of the angels head!

  30. Ah ben ça fait plaisir de voir un peu de français quand même ! :)

    A French native avec pas beaucoup de knowledge en anglais, qui aimait bien cette langue, qui l'apprenait avec ardeur, mais qui commence à en faire une overdose...(faut pas lui en vouloir, un moment de désespoir)

  31. Tiens, je ne comprends rien de ce que dit soosha_q par exemple (enfin surtout la fin)...j'abandone :(

  32. Happy Bastille Day, Eric!
    I was wondering, is the Opera de la Bastille near here? Perhaps is it that huge modern building behind the column in your other photo?

  33. I am going right now to Montpellier in south of France for 3 weeks:

    I wish nice holidays to your all!

  34. You have the most inspired national anthem, ever! We will have our miniature Bastille Day celebrations in Brookyn and NYC, too...Have a wonderful holiday -- do you have a traditional meal, like we have barbeque and fireworks on the 4th?

  35. Have fun, Haxo. Dang, I guess we're gonna have to look things up in Wikipedia while you're gone! ;-)

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