Happy Bastille Day! The 14th of July or Le Quatorze Juillet is a pivotal part of the French Revolution and thus French history that has developed into the Fête Nationale Francaise or the French National Day. It is celebrated with military parades, various activities, lots of food and gorgeous fireworks displays in Paris and all over France, and the French territories in the Caribbean are no exception.
This was my first Bastille Day celebration on French St. Martin. I am usually away around this time of year but was quite excited to finally be home to witness the activities and document how this day is celebrated the creole way.
The Celebrations started at the Hotel de la Collectivité. Not to be mistaken for an actual hotel the Hotel de la Collectivité is the official government building.
The official ceremony opened the celebrations for La Fête Nationale and was attended by dignitaries from both French and Dutch St. Martin who all gathered in the garden of Hotel de la Collectivité to witness the laying of the wreaths.
Following the church service and wreath laying ceremony was St. Martin’s version of the military parade on Boulevard de France known as the Marigot Waterfront. Gendarmes, firemen, scouts, dancers and a drum band partook in the very short but beautiful parade.
The Caribbean version of the celebrations involved a lot of food, more food, and did I mention FOOD? as well as music, cycling and running races, a traditional boat racing and culminating of course in a grand fireworks display on the waterfront.
It was a super hot day and by the end of the parade my stomach was grumbling. There was food galore at the many food stalls and waterfront restaurants but I decided to head over to the fishing village of Grand Case instead for some delicious grilled food followed by a well deserved Ti Punch, a traditional creole drink made with rum from the French islands.
A stroll on Boulevard de Grand Case was just the ticket after my grilled shrimp kebab with potato salad and sweet plantain. There are many local arts being sold here but one particular artist caught my eye. Asif Hakh is originally from Guyana but has been calling St. Martin home for years and his little art shop in Grand Case is well worth a visit.
The attack on Nice, one of my favorite French cities has certainly left a bad taste and I thought long and hard about posting this blog in fear of it seeming insensitive. I truly hope the attack did not forever soil the meaning of la fête nationale and I hope le quatorze juillet continues to be a day of celebration. VIVA LA FRANCE!
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Remember to always live, laugh and travel,