Quatorze Juillet 2020: Celebrating the Spirit of Paris

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Quatorze Juillet 2020: Celebrating the Spirit of Paris

The patriotism of Quatorze Juillet (aka la Fête Nationale and Bastille Day) emerged in different form this year. In these times of pandemic, many of the traditional events were altered (or even cancelled like the bals des pompiers).

The overall message, however, was Vive la France, with tribute paid to those who continue to fight for the health of the country and the ideals of Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité.

© Meredith Mullins

The day began, as usual, with the thundering of aircraft down the corridor of the Seine. This year, the jet streaming of the blue, white, and red began as an almost perfect French flag and then took flight as organic trails seemed to link the earth with “yonder.” 

The parade, which is normally heavy with military might down the Champs Elysées, took place at Place de la Concorde in front of a select, socially distanced audience and paid tribute to Charles de Gaulle as well as the frontline health workers, sanitary workers, and mask makers (while a manifestation of frustrated health care workers took place near Place de la Bastille).

© Meredith Mullins

The traditional concert before the fireworks from the Orchestre National de France and the Choeur de Radio France was a program of “greatest hits” from all genres of the music world.

From Edith Piaf’s “L’hymne à L’amour” to Verdi’s Va Pensiero to a medley from West Side Story to classic arias from “La Wally,” “La Traviata,” and Les Pêcheurs de Perles” to a selection from Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel, Gounod, Tchaikovsky, and Bizet—the socially distanced orchestra, choir, and international soloists touched the souls of the virtual audience. And, with a grand finale of the Marseillaise leading into the fireworks, one can’t help but feel patriotic.

© Meredith Mullins

Although the streets and public spaces around the Tour Eiffel and Trocadero were eerily empty (by police mandate), the fireworks  knew no boundaries. The iron lacework of the tower served as a unique backdrop for the explosions of light and color, the shooting stars, and the impressionistic brushstrokes.

The pyrotechnic artistry inspired the imagination and created, among other things, multi-limbed green aliens, fashion week divas, and diamond studded poodles.

And for 35 shimmering minutes, we all forgot the troubles of the world.

© Meredith Mullins

© Meredith Mullins

© Meredith Mullins

© Meredith Mullins

© Meredith Mullins

© Meredith Mullins

© Meredith Mullins

Photo credit : Le 14 Juillet in Paris. © Meredith Mullins

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Meredith Mullins is an internationally exhibited fine art photographer and instructor based in Paris. Her work is held in private and museum collections in Europe and the U.S. and can be seen at www.meredithmullins.artspan.com or in her award-winning book "In A Paris Moment." She is a writer for OIC Moments and other travel and education publications.

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Comments

  • Lillie Grossman
    2020-07-23 10:43:21
    Lillie Grossman
    Beautiful! I recall July 14th when Greg won the Tour. Lights, fireworks and people. Lucky YOU.

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  • Gloria Daxland
    2020-07-19 06:27:14
    Gloria Daxland
    Bonjour! And a big merci beaucoup to you for the beautiful photos of la fete nationale which my husband and I have had to miss this year due to the restrictions of the pandemic here in NYC. We have been living in our beloved Normandie for 3 months every summer since 2003 & are so sad to have missed out this year. We only saw snippets of the July 14 celebrations on our local TV stations but saw a bit more on French TV which we receive online, making us feel still connected. We can't wait for all the restrictions to be lifted, hopefully by year end, so we can fly again back to our French home for Christmas; that would be a blessing. We wish you continued good health & happy times in Paris; our daughter is also living & teaching there & keeps us abreast of all the cultural happenings which we also miss terribly!

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  • Walter Ritter
    2020-07-18 08:26:04
    Walter Ritter
    How fantastic it must have been to be there and to experience these fireworks first-hand. what memories the spectators will have for the rest of their lives.

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  • Kathy santangelo
    2020-07-18 02:32:25
    Kathy santangelo
    Truly Amazing. Only in France in spite of everything, they carry on in such Splendor . VIVE LA FRANCE

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  • Barbara Albrecht
    2020-07-17 08:08:45
    Barbara Albrecht
    Such an amazing display of fireworks from Tour Eiffel, to celebrate La Fête Nationale! This francophile from Australie is hoping to return to La Belle France post Covid 19 . Vive la France !

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  • Eleanore
    2020-07-17 07:46:34
    Eleanore
    Thank You! I missed my annual trip to Paris this spring... My fading spirit was truly lifted!

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  • Barbara J Blizzard
    2020-07-17 07:19:35
    Barbara J Blizzard
    Thanks for sharing the beauty of your celebrations for those of us in America who cannot visit this year.

    REPLY

  • Don Frix
    2020-07-17 05:38:52
    Don Frix
    Just Wonderful and as I remember watching at the l' Hotel Ritz overlooking the Tuileries!! Viva la France!!

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  • J. Bernreuther
    2020-07-17 05:31:47
    J. Bernreuther
    À quelle époque est-ce que vous étiez avec NYU à Paris? J’étais là comme étudiante graduée en 1971-72, et )’habitais la Fondation des Etats-Unis, rue Jourdan. Le bureau de NYU était rue Chardin, 16eme. J’ai de très bons souvenirs de Paris , et J’aime y retourner de temps en temps. Malheureusement, ce n’est pas possible en ce moment! 🙁 Bonne fête nationale! (un peu en retard!) J. Bernreuther

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  • Jim Sobieski
    2020-07-17 04:44:28
    Jim Sobieski
    The first photo of the flyover brought tears to my eyes. I was stationed in France with the US Army from 1956 to 1958, and I have vacationed there many times since. Paris is absolutely my favorite city in the whole world. Vive la France!

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  • Betsy Popkin
    2020-07-17 04:07:27
    Betsy Popkin
    I remember watching the parade on Bastille Day 1965. The highlight was seeing General Charles de Gaulle in an open car in the parade.

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  • Dori Bonn
    2020-07-17 03:46:15
    Dori Bonn
    Thank you so much for the fireworks. Even the images on a computer lift spirits. Very inspiring to see the heroes celebrated.

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  • maria k bowditch
    2020-07-17 03:10:06
    maria k bowditch
    I'll never forget the time I was a student with NYU in Paris and watched the fireworks from a grand apt overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Walking home to my dorm room, with the hordes of others, was also quite a memory!

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  • Denise Figone
    2020-07-17 02:18:26
    Denise Figone
    Oh how I wish i could have been in Paris to see the beautiful Eiffel Tower with the fire works. So breathtaking. Denise from San Francisco,

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  • Carol Starr
    2020-07-16 11:16:46
    Carol Starr
    Fabulous article and fireworks 🧨 photos. Thanks so much! Is there a way I can share besides Facebook?

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  • Pamela
    2020-07-16 09:21:10
    Pamela
    Wow! Superb photos and interesting text. Amazing all the effects you managed to enhance with these clever angles. Especially like the spooky fierce green gem with white spikes.

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  • Patricia McDonald
    2020-07-16 08:11:44
    Patricia McDonald
    The fireworks from the Eiffel Tower were spectacular. Thanks for sharing.

    REPLY