Bastille Day 2020

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Today marks the 231st anniversary of France’s independence day. It’s officially known as “la Fête nationale,” and commonly-referred to as “le 14 juillet” in French. Since the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the nation has since embraced its Republic identity of what it truly means to be French. As the motto goes, it’s “liberté, égalité, fraternité” (liberty, equality, brotherhood) for all.

This is the first year since 2014 that I’m not in France to participate in their celebrations. It has also been almost a year since I left the country, repatriating back to the US. Sad as the situation it is for me, I’m glad for what I’ve experienced while being abroad. From the people I met to the places I visited, I wouldn’t trade all of that for anything in this world.

I have had the opportunity to celebrate le 14 juillet twice while in France. The first time was in 2014, when I studied abroad in Paris for the summer. I went down to the Eiffel Tower with a fellow classmate, and we braved the claustrophobia to capture the beauty of the fireworks up-close and personal. Getting back to our accommodation afterwards was hell, but there were no regrets of that that night.

The second time was just this past year, in 2019, before I left France for good. I had two to three nights in Paris, and I took that time to revisit my old haunts as a way of saying goodbye to my host country for a while. I camped out on le pont des Invalides until sunset, when the fireworks came on at the Eiffel Tower. Also crowded with people, but less so than if I’d gone closer to the iconic monument– plus, viewing it from a distance made for perfect photos of both the Eiffel Tower and the fireworks!

It aches that I won’t be able to return to France anytime soon, due to COVID-19 and the incompetency of how my country (the US) is handling it. All the same, though, I know that once I can go back, the reunification will be all the more worthwhile, and until then, I wish everyone in France a happy (and safe) celebration.

À très bientôt, mes chers!

— The Finicky Cynic

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