When Bastille Day is not Bastille Day…

When Bastille Day is not Bastille Day…

La fête nationale, 14 juillet. Une journée très spéciale.

Loulabelle's FrancoFiles episode 44

Guest: Sarah Zwick - Be My Guest Immersions

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J’adore catching up with my belle amie Sarah Zwick from Be My Guest Immersions in Bayonne in south-west France! I was fascinated to hear her French perspective of Bastille Day celebrations. In France, Bastille Day is not Bastille Day! Not even le jour de la Bastille! It is always referred to as “quatorze juillet” in France. Sarah had never heard it called Bastille Day until she came to live in Australia for a while!

So in short, the way French kids learn about the origins of 14 juillet according to Sarah…

The Bastille was the symbol of the monarchy. It was a prison where the king could lock up his prisoners sometimes for dubious crimes. The people of Paris after getting annoyed with the excess wealth they saw the royals and the French nobles living with, stormed the Bastille to claim back their freedom.

There’s a complex and amazing story that has been depicted in many films, books and plays. For more of the real historical facts click here!

Celebrating Bastille Day/14 juillet is important right across the nation in France, to remember the history but also to celebrate France as it is today with family and friends. Each year there is a theme for 14 juillet and this year it was “La Liberté”.

Sarah’s family usually celebrate with a big party and watch the fireworks in her local area near Biarritz, but this year things are obviously different. Celebrations are only with “les proche” (close friends).


This year in summer Sarah is also cooking lots just from her garden and limiting trips to the shops. She shared with us her current crop of courgettes (zucchinis) is proving a delight in the kitchen and she’s been cooking up a storm.

Tarte à la Courgette


I normally ask for a recommendation to share some French music on the LFF podcast, but this time I wanted to share something with Sarah! There was a wonderful live concert staged in Paris this year for people to watch from home if they couldn’t celebrate as they usually would. This recording is by a very popular performer previously recommended by lovely      Emily Gaudichon (LFF episode 20). Ibrahim Maalouf is a brilliant trumpet player. J’adore this arrangement of La Marseillaise as he performed in the Concert de Paris on Bastille Day recently.

Maalouf’s soulful trumpet at the start conveys the quietness and the sombre seasons the Parisians have just been through. Then the voices of the women, men and children come together to rise up and ignite their collective spark, and finally the symphony of children playing trumpets who join in with the orchestra and Maalouf at the end is overwhelming. I must admit to being quite overcome at one point watching it. A beautiful and very moving version of La Marseillaise..

The song is a little long, so as I said in the podcast, grab a cup of tea or un café, or peut-etre un vin rouge and sit back, close your eyes and let the beautiful music just flow over you!

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