While I’m an American by blood (and proud), I have this insatiable crush on France. Its romance language makes my heart race, and its commitment to Nutella as a basic food group makes me salivate. The French take their time, savor each moment and make some dang good dessert. Their independence day is approaching rapidement, and I’m excited to share my tips with you on how to throw a fantastique Bastille Day party.
But first, let’s brush up on some history. (It’s been quite some time since my AP European History class during my sophomore year!) In July 1789, French unemployment soared, famine spread and prices spiked – the typical worker spent 88 percent of his paycheck on bread, according to History.com. On July 14, the French people stormed the Bastille, a military fortress and prison – an event that contributed to the French Revolution. Today the French celebrate their national holiday similar to Americans on July Fourth, with fireworks, parades and heritage celebration.
Here’s how you can celebrate the French holiday if you can’t drop by France for the big day:
You don’t need anything terribly fancy to make your Bastille Day party a smashing success – many of these items you may already have or can find them at your local craft store. I tied a red and white ribbon around a San Pellegrino bottle to start the bleu, blanc, rouge theme and achieve a European atmosphere.
If you’ve been to France before, be sure to showcase your scrapbooks and trip photos either in a frame or with a clothespin. I found a mini chalkboard at a craft store and wrote bonjour on it. Near the end of a lengthy shopping trip to the craft store, my sister spotted blue, white and red bows and suggested I include them in my party. I strung them on twine to make a banner on the wall – so simple, so cute.
If you’re a wannabe francophile like me, you have a smorgasbord of random French memorabilia. This is the day to dust it off and give it its time to shine. For me, that meant my wire Eiffel tower and array of French books. To finish off your spread and score that je ne sais quoi, add a string of lights or light a candle.
First things first, baguette is a necessity. I paired it with a jar of Nutella, which would also pair well with croissants and other pastries. After trying two stores to little avail, I finally found some flavored macarons at a small hole-in-the-wall of a shop in mid-Missouri. (Who knew it would be so freakin’ difficult to find some macarons when I could find them on every corner last summer?!)
Pair your snacks with café au lait, Orangina or carbonated water. I opted for a French flag-inspired drink: iced strawberry lemonade topped with blueberries. Other ideas for your Bastille Day rendez-vous: a cheese spread and a crêpe station.
Music & Activities
Set the mood with French tunes, and make sure their national anthem “La Marseillaise” makes the playlist.
During your party, think about having a French-themed movie on, some suggestions being Midnight in Paris, Monte Carlo, Funny Face or Les Misérables.
If you’re guests are more artsy, consider having a watercolor station to let out their inner Frenchie. Brush up on your high school French with these key phrases sheet.
I had the time of my life celebrating Bastille Day in France last summer, and while I wish I could be back, celebrating from America is the next best thing. Vive la France!
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