Friday, July 15, 2011

Royalty's Revenge

Yesterday was Bastille Day here in France. They don't call it Bastille Day. The call it quatorze julliet or La Fete Nationale. Nonetheless, the day would be similar to our 4th of July in the United States. It celebrates the storming of the Bastille and the ensuing overthrow of the monarchy. Okay, it was sort of a hijacked and botched attempt at democracy...but every country has to start somewhere! France still had to get through Napoleon a couple of times and another king or two. Nonetheless, it's a big deal and all over the country the day is celebrated with military parades, awesome fireworks displays and cultural events.

I've been to our fireworks event here in Aix before and it is superb. It's held at the Rotunde, the big fountain at the center of the city.  This magnificent display is coordinated with some morsel of inspiring classical music and the most awesome thing is, it's not performed in a stadium, seemingly miles away. Or an athletic field....or across the river. It's right in front of you... over you...smack dab in the middle of the city. No lawyers are waiting in the wings to sign up the injured. No police officers are barring entry any closer than 3 miles from the display.

Last year I attended the military parade in the afternoon. It was fun...interesting....and one military parade is usually enough for me, so I chose not to go this year.

But I'm not going to miss the fireworks. No siree! And...and....and...I read that there was to be a ball afterwards. At the Rotunde. Well just how cool is that? Especially considering that when I was home in May, my darling person-who-birthed-me-whom-I-promised-to-never-mention-in-a-blog-again gave me...yes life just keeps getting better every very own......TIARA. Complete with pink feathers. She knows how much I've been missing one...mostly because I mention its absence every year on my birthday. And she knew how happy it would make me. And it DID! And now, it would be a perfect accessory for a Ball.

So last night, I donned my tiara, and everything pink to match, and my friend Tenley and I went to the fireworks. Amazingly we found a table at the outdoor cafe just next to the Rotunde. Amazingly, we got a drink. We watched the fountain as it was lit up for the pre-fireworks show and listened to the accompanying music (when we could actually hear it over the ghastly techno music that was playing at the cafe. Why didn't they turn it off?) We wondered just how dark it had to be before our real entertainment would begin. I marveled at how the crowd was just "not what it used to be"(makes me feel so settled to be able to say something like that). Eventually we got up to move closer and we were able to walk in right next to ...I mean within touching distance... of the fountain. We were just so....AMAZED.

Ditto for when the gentleman walking around the Rotunde informed us that, no...of course there would be no fireworks tonight. Because of the mistral. Our lovely mistral wind that had so kindly cooled down our city! We moaned, we groaned. Tenley protested, "but I've spent the entire evening hanging out with a woman wearing a pink, fuzzy crown!"

French shrug. "What can you do about the mistral?"

So there we were. All dressed up with no place to go.

We wandered down the Cours Mirabeau, teeming with people enjoying the cool, clear, night. We eventually found The Ball. It was a 12 piece band set up on a grand stage at the head of the Cours. They were performing disco...which I didn't even like when disco was king.  Some people were...LINE DANCING! There was not one single prince in sight and I was decidedly overdressed.

We listened for awhile because the band was good but eventually agreed to leave the ball before midnight. I did not want my precious crown to go poof! At least not before my next birthday.

Still it was a beautiful night with a just waning moon. And it was so nice to be out. And a little promenade while wearing a crown can never be a bad thing. Well, unless it's after the July 14, 1789 and your name is Louis XIV or Marie Antoinette.

Perhaps it's bad form to celebrate the demise of royalty with a crown. Perhaps that is why we never got our fireworks. Some sort of cosmic intervention. Frankly, I don't care. Marie Antoinette never said this...but I will....

Let them eat cake!



  1. I love that you wore your tiara and didn't worry about being beheaded, or at least stormed. You should have jumped into that disco!! Sounds like a fabulous evening. I'm embarrased to tell you that on the 4th, I watched the fireworks on TV because I had to be at an early morning run the next day. Lame. I know. More gusto, less sleep.

  2. Yesterday, I wondered how B-day was celebrated so read this post with much interest . . .makes my yearning to get there even stronger. Thanks D, have a great weekend!

  3. Sorry you didn't get fireworks! My French boyfriend's sister kept saying they wouldn't have fireworks up here in Lille because it rained all day, but it stopped raining just in time and we got a lovely show!

    Apparently when they can't do fireworks on the actual day because of weather (this happens a lot up here) they usually post pone it and do it later on, so you may get your lovely fireworks yet!

  4. I had lodgings with a lady in Marseille Wednesday night who was having second thoughts about having accepted an invitation to the fireworks and a get together. She was praying that the mistral would result in a cancellation. Will have to email her to see how it went (or didn't). I missed all festivities. Flew back to the US le quatorze juillet.

  5. Mlle. ChaussetteJuly 15, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    Loved this post Delana. Describes Aix in all its (still) surprising glory - even walking the streets at night is such a treat. Fireworks smireworks, Aix is fantastic even without all the fanfare. And to wander its' streets and boulevards and squares in a pink tiara? It doesn't get better than that!!!!

  6. What's a ball without Prince Charming? Bummer on the prince and fireworks front, but it sounds like you had a fabulous night regardless. I think this means I need to wear a tiara next time I hit the town.

  7. I love that you wore a crown. I would have worn a crown with you :-)

  8. It seems that you had a lovely evening in spite of no fireworks and no prince. Isnt' it amazing how after 50 we can enjoy an evening with so little at hand?!?!


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