Today is a national holiday in France: Bastille Day
, which is something like the fourth of July, if the fourth of July included fireworks from the Eiffel Tower and fresh baked croissants at Notre Dame.
On July 14, 1789, Paris was, according to François Mignet, "intoxicated with liberty and enthusiasm" (LOVE THIS PHRASE) and they'd had enough with French nobility doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. So they stormed the Bastille, which was a teeny prison at the center of Paris (and only had 7 prisoners inside at the time) but made one heckuva metaphor.
The fall of the Bastille is largely considered the critical moment in the start of the French Revolution (very very similar to the American Revolution that began 13 years earlier) along with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
, which is a fantastic document (100% worth reading) and includes the following line relating to freedom of speech and of the press that I love like WHOA: The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
Anywho...It's no surprise that I heart all things French. I mean, who can't get behind a nation that gave us the baguette, champagne, the Statue of Liberty, coq au vin, the Chanel bag, and Eric Ripert?
What's your favorite thing about France? Or the French? Tell me in comments, and I'll choose one person next Wednesday to win a paperback copy of The Season (which boasts both a French Baron & a French modiste)!
And Happy Bastille Day!