Photo: The painting is “Bastille Day, Boulevard Rochechouart, Paris” by the Bostonian Childe Hassam.
For all Belmontians who call France their (ancestral) home: Joyeux Le Quatorze Juillet! Today, Tuesday, July 14, is Bastille Day, the national holiday of France. But the French themselves don’t call today “la fête Bastille.”
Today is simply known as “la fête du 14-juillet” – the July 14th holiday – or more officially, “la fête nationale” – the National Holiday. In 1880, the French decided to celebrate a national holiday; July 14th eventually won out because it was the day of la Fête de la Fédération, a joyous celebration in 1790 that honored the new French Republic and commemorated the one year anniversary of the storming of the Bastille.
So the day is a holiday mostly concerning national pride and the values “liberté, fraternité, and égalité,” with a extravagant military parade in Paris, picnics, parties and fireworks. As for Belmont – yes, the town’s name is Old French for “beautiful mountain” – you can find some decent macaroons at LA Burdick Chocolate in Harvard Square and you can obtain big, fluffy croissants at Quebrada Baking Company in Belmont Center.