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

Lead 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." (If you’re in Paris, a few rare, signed copies are available at Shakespeare and Company and Red Wheelbarrow.) She is a writer for OIC Moments and other travel and education publications.


  • 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!