IMG_1845Happy Bastille Day!

Last night, our village was among those hosting a dinner and fireworks–done the night before the holiday because they can’t compete with the big fireworks tonight at la Cité of Carcassonne.

Here is the dinner menu: salad with gizzards; civet of duck (this civet isn’t the little animal but a kind of ragout made with lots of onions and pronounced see-VAY); bleu de coeur cheese; and apple pie. The Carnivore went, but I skipped it–too many calories and not enough vegetables.IMG_1796When it got dark, everybody went to the park of our château (almost every village has at least one château) to watch the fireworks. There is something charming about being in a crowd where you know 90% of the people. Children ran around freely; the park is their playground and they were excited by a place so familiar seen so unfamiliarly dark. IMG_1922When the fireworks started, more than a few of the little ones became hysterical. Fireworks are an acquired taste.

The crowd oohed and aahed in in unison, which added to the feeling of togetherness.

Compared with last year, the display was smaller and had some glitches. The park has an old stone bridge that used to go over the river until a flood changed its course. Sparklers hanging off the side give the impression of a waterfall of lights. Very pretty, especially with the elegant arch of the bridge. But the string came loose, and half of the waterfall turned into more of a puddle.

This one looked like one of those deep space photos. And it was a very starry night.

After the big finale, we stood around chatting with friends as people slowly shuffled out. Suddenly another firework blasted off and lit up the sky. One of the technicians took off across the lawn, flashlight in hand, toward the launching area. A couple more strays went off. A small fire burned under the bridge. Technicians’ flashlights flickered back and forth near the rose garden. Clearly little villages have to make do with the farm league of fireworks.

Tonight, though, is the big leagues. For a week, you could feel the excitement mounting in town. There were more people around, adding to the energy. July brings the Festival of Carcassonne, with concerts, theater and dance. I went to a dance performance in the courtyard of the château of la Cité–a fabulous setting (la Cité isn’t a castle but a fortified city, with a château inside it that was the last resort). IMG_1872Tonight, the only concerts are free ones at Place Carnot, in the Bastide, or “new” town (dating from only 1260, but that’s how things roll around here). Guy Lacroux will play old-fashioned bal musette dance tunes on the accordion before the fireworks, and BRBB, for Béziers Rhythm & Blues Band, will play after.

At the same time, the reason for the holiday is a serious one. The fight for freedom, for equality, for fraternity and pitching in together for the common good. They aren’t easy principles to uphold, and sometimes what seems right can turn out wrong. But France does a pretty good job, and I’m grateful to live here.IMG_1903

16 thoughts on “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

  1. There really is something special about doing things collectively in a small village. On Canada Day we watched the fireworks at the harbour with a about four hundred other folks. It is quite special to have at least nodding acquaintance with most of them. Yes we all oohed at the same time. The boats in the harbour tooted their horns.


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  2. My third daughter was born in November 5th which you will understand is THE fireworks night for an English person. She was petrified of feu d’artifice until she was in her mid teens! Bonne fête nationale to you and yours 🎆🎇❇✨

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  3. The final Fireworks photo is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I visited Carcassonne in 2011 while visiting an Aunt who at the time lived in the Village of Cremps. We did a driving tour from Cremps to Monaco…very cool.

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  4. It’s the way those lights are shining on the building that really draws my eye.

    On Canada Day here, we had a fireworks show set to last 20 minutes, 17 seconds, as a nod to this being an anniversary year.

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  5. Francetaste, I love your story about the fireworks. I hope we will be there next July for the Fete National concerts and fireworks. I hope to be back to blogging regularly within the week as our house finally goes on the market.

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