Sasha Arutyunova

Bastille Day and French Culture in New Orleans

12:00 July 11, 2022
By: Izzy Wollfarth

If you are a native New Orleanian, you probably know a bit about the city's French, Creole, and Spanish origins. Even if you are not originally from New Orleans, when visiting the city's historic locations like the French Quarter you can see the influence of both French and Spanish cultures on the city's infrastructure. More specifically in terms of French culture, when entering Louisiana, the welcoming sign itself says "Bienvenue en Louisiane" meaning "Welcome to Louisiana" in French.

Ken Lund, Flickr

While there are plenty of Easter eggs hidden all around the city revealing New Orleans' cultural influences, there are even easier ways to explore these different cultures. The best way to do this is attending different events held by cultural organization in New Orleans. One upcoming event to explore the francophone side of New Orleans is on July 14th with the Bastille Day Fête.

The Origins of Bastille Day

Chief Petty and Officer Michael McNabb

In France, Bastille Day has many names, some being French National Day and the Fourteenth of July. In France, the celebration's main intention is to celebrate the French storming the Bastille on July 14, 1789. France during the late 1700's was faced with political injustice and extreme poverty because of their inadequate royal authority. This led into a series of revolutions led by the people of France namely, the French revolutions. The Bastille was an infamous prison that represented the immense political control and authority that the rulers of France had over the French people. Thus, the French storming the Bastille was a sign of political rebellion and resistance against the royal's abuse of power.

The storming of the Bastille eventually bred change within the French monarchy and gave power and unity back to the people. Overall, this event was a changing point in the French revolution and in the history of France. The people were viewed as a force to be reckoned with and fought to gain their rights as citizens. Today, Bastille Day is a celebration of the same unity, freedom, and power that the French people felt over 200 years ago. This day is one that all French people find a way to be a part of and has made its' mark as having the oldest and largest military parade in Europe.

A Little Bit of France in New Orleans

Cheryl Gerber

After understanding the origins of Bastille Day, comes the desire to find ways to celebrate. This is why the Alliance Française de La Nouvelle-Orléans (AF) organization brings you their own version of Bastille Day in New Orleans. On July 14 from 6 to 10 p.m. at 1519 Jackson Avenue, Bastille Day Fête will take place! This event has things for the entire family, from live musical performances, French DJs, and kid's area to crêpes, French food, and a champagne bar. Members of the AF organization can pre-purchase tickets for $8 and non-members for $13.

If you're just passing by this event and want to join in on the fun, tickets are only $15 at the door. Additionally, if you visit the AF's website, you can explore their Bastille Day Kit option, a $75 dollar package including a single day membership to the event, yard signs by New Orleans artist Simon, and more. Lastly, if you are looking to learn more about French culture and meet a new community of people, the event is also accepting volunteers, who can sign up here! This event is not one to miss and only has one rule "Dress French to Drink!"

Pre-Bastille Day Celebrations

Now you might fully understand the history and upcoming celebrations surrounding Bastille Day. What you might be looking for however, are ways to still indulge in French culture before and after this event occurs. As mentioned previously, you can become a member of the AF organization to be updated with the French side of New Orleans. With this membership, you will receive a plethora of benefits to start your French exploration. This includes access to language classes, discounted prices on French novels and merchandise, Free entrance to the monthly book and French film club, and more.

jcsullivan24, Flickr

Aside from attending events, there are many opportunities to taste French cuisine around New Orleans. Some of these restaurants include Antoine's Restaurant located on 713 St. Louis Street, Café Degas located on 3127 Esplanade Avenue, and La Madeleine with various locations around the city. Once you start exploring, you won't be able to stop and there is plenty more where that came from. Check out this article for five ways we celebrated Bastille Day last year. Happy upcoming Bastille Day to all who celebrate and all who want to celebrate and grow in their French knowledge.

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