14 Juillet à Paris

It's a holiday weekend in France - today is July 14th - Bastille day! It's the same day back in 2004 when I made the mistake of trying to get my first visa from the French Embassy in downtown LA.

Fermé pour le quatorze juillet - closed for July 14th! 

Vive la France.

I don't even really celebrate the 4th of July for my 'Ricaines, but somehow this year I feel more involved with the holiday weekend.  Probably because I have friends who actually plan things. Thank god for friends.

My dancer friends whipped up a last minute apéro on the Canal Saint Martin, followed by a drive by at the Bal des Pompiers - the Firemen's Ball.  It was a no pressure affair since most of us were low on energy but felt like it was one of those things you have to do once in life. I mean, when else can you party with the Pompiers de Paris?

It was the tastiest apéro I've had in a long time -
White and rosé wines, fresh veggies with hummus, cheeses, meats, scrumptious salads, French breads, olives, apricots, cherries, and of course, fraise tagada - the disgusting strawberry flavored marshmallows that all little French kids like, and that I have somehow learned to love. 

Everyone was out at the Canal...

Despite our general fatigue (being over 30 does this to you...), we rallied after the apéro and headed to the Pompiers party, having no idea what to expect. I'd heard a lot about the Bal des Pompiers, but had never been myself. Everyone always asks me what it's about and I never know how to respond.  Even Copain had never been. Normally I mention something about "down home fun", and I'm happy to say that I wasn't far off!

We went to the caserne (firehouse) in the 10th arrondissement, not far from our apéro spot, further up the Canal. The pompiers had gated off the entry and secured the area so that party-goers couldn't fall into the water - good thinking pompiers! Entry was by donation, and then there were drinks and food to purchase inside. It was already pretty full when we got there, with a live band on stage, balloon arches (yes!), a special party boat, lights and a mystical fog machine for the stage, and lots and lots of pompiers. 

We grabbed a bottle of champers for 35 Euros and tried to learn the back up dancers' choreography as we deciphered the French songs they were singing onstage. The Cheese Factor was at an all-time high! Down home fun!

Thankfully, when people drank too much, there were 5 pompiers to carry them to safety. Good ol' pompiers. Our gendarme friend explained that the Bal des Pompiers is a tradition the night before the 14th of July because the pompiers are a part of the military - learn something new everyday right?

This morning there will be a big military parade on the Champs Elysées. Then tonight they'll have a concert on the Champs de Mars, followed by feu d'artifices (fireworks) by the Eiffel Tower - which I'll be watching from afar...

Vive la France et vive la République :-)

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