Bastille Day is celebrated each July 14 in France.
Also known as la Fête Nationale or 14 juillet, the holiday commemorates the day that the people of Paris stormed the Bastille prison in 1789. That began the violent overthrow of the monarchy, making way for a republic and the beginning of a modern nation.
Traditionally, the revelry begins the night before with elaborate parties. Then on the morning of Bastille Day, the world’s largest and oldest military procession takes place in Paris, with the President of France at the head of the parade and jets flying overhead. A jaw-dropping fireworks display, with the Eiffel Tower serving as the backdrop, brings the celebration to a grand conclusion.
Most Parisians settle in for an afternoon of outdoor parties — with lots of eating and drinking. (I recall similar celebrations taking place along the shore of Lake Michigan during the years I lived in Chicago.)
The French are just as passionate about food and wine as the Italians, so the food ranges from simple to gourmet, and the wine from everyday to extravagant.
When celebrating Bastille Day or any special day, here are some food-and-wine combinations to consider…
- A lunch with quiche, pâté and onion soup — sparkling wine. It could be Prosecco, Spanish Cava or American sparkling wine… but for Bastille Day, it really should be Champagne.
- A snack of rich cheese, flaky bread and savory tarts — a rosé-style wine. Exceptional rosés are crafted worldwide… but for Bastille Day, it really should be a rosé from Provence.
- A dinner of pan-seared duck breast with duck confit and collard-stuffed crepes — a good California Pinot Noir (Carneros, the Sonoma Coast, Santa Barbara County, the Russian River Valley and the North Coast are among the viticultural labels to look for on labels)… but for Bastille Day, it really should be a red Burgundy.