Bastille Day 2006

Bastille Day on Belden PlaceHere it was, the day where much like Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone wants to co-opt a bit of another culture to get in on the fun of the festivities. But, unlike wearing green, there doesn’t seem to be any official color people wear on Bastille Day. Maybe that’s just because people running around in blue, white, and red, looks a lot like a latent 4th of July celebrant. The drinking still goes hand in hand with Bastille though, as it seems to be the case with any national holiday.
There’s more history to it than I want to sum up here, so read about it on Wikipedia. Suffice to say, there is a lot of history behind it. This gets a little lost the food and drink celebration you see at all the local restaurants, like Cafe Bastille, Plouf, Cafe Claude, Le Central, and Cafe de la Presse. Who cares though? I’d much rather be sipping wine and eating French food for a holiday than getting fat and ultimately hungover on Bud at the typical 4th of July celebration.
Really though, the biggest hotspot is at Belden Place. Traditionally, this has been the nexus of the celebration and it’s pretty funny, since there are only two French restaurants there, but Cafe Bastille was one of the originals and the reason the fun started. This year however was muchmore subdued. There were still tons and tons of people there, but it wasn’t the crazy drunken mess that it has been in years past. I’ve heard (although have yet to verify) that there was a cost issue in getting the outdoor permits for the drinks and the owners of the restaurants on Belden saw little need to do it as the people who went there just got drunk, trashed the place, and added little to the atmosphere other than people. It was probably a good call. Had I been dining there on Friday, I would have had a good time. As it was, I was just passing through and checking out the scene like many folks. It still is the spot for Bastille-ocity though. I haven’t heard so much French spoken in one place since the last time I was in Paris.Bastille Day along Bush Street
There were some other spots where the celebrations spilled over as well. Any restaurant that claimed to be the least bit French had their colors out for the day. Cafe Claude on Claude Lane was a good crowd. While not the throngs of people you see on Belden, it was still quite busy. Cafe de la Presse further up Bush (and pictured) was also pretty jumping. But the one place that gave me the biggest laugh was the Irish Bank Pub. They were also doing the whole Bastille thing. Pretty ridiculous, but I suppose it’s about time they got back at everyone for stealing their holiday in the first place. Poor French. They’re such an easy target.