On Bastille Day, Versailles is the place to be

Today is Bastille Day in France. Its a national day that celebrates the storming of the Bastille, a Parisian armory and prison, in 1789 and a symbolic event of the French Revolution. The Palace of Versailles is now a major tourist attraction and one of the largest palaces in the world. Once the official residence of the Kings of France, mobs marched on Versailles and carried Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI away to Paris. Ultimately, in 1793, they were led to the guillotine.

Today, tourists pay 13 euros (about $18) to visit the 18,000 square metre palace that has 2,000 windows and 1,250 fireplaces but many visitors will spend today relaxing on the grounds.

“…best bet is to do what Parisians do: pack a picnic (a baguette, brie, foie gras, grapes, salad, chocolate, wine and a blanket, or hotel towels) from the city and head for a shady tree on the far side of the Grand Canal, getting you away from the crowds and into a spot to view from a distance the exquisite rear of the chateau, or “the garden side,” as Voltaire called it” says the Toronto Star.

Best wishes to our friends in France who US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “a dedicated and enduring partner to the American people” yesterday in a statement commemorating France’s National Day.

Flickr photo by OliverN5

Storm the Bastille with Concorde Hotels

Need an excuse to head out to Europe this summer? Concorde Hotels & Resorts is ready to feed your jones for travel. The Concorde Summer package – just in time for Bastille Day – puts 22 hotels from around the world at your fingertips, from the Hotel Lutetia in Paris to the super-upscale Hotel de la Paix on the shores of Lake Geneva. You can join the party for as little as $115 a night ($165 in some cases), which, I assure you, is so insane that I half-expected to see Crazy Eddy’s name listed somewhere on the press release.

As has become common with deals from up-market hotels, the low room rate isn’t all you get. Concorde is throwing in some great extras, including a daily buffet breakfast, access to double rooms and a second room at an additional 50 percent discount. Also, Condorde’s throwing in a surprise gift for each stay.

But, you have to take advantage of it this summer. The deal stretches from July 10, 2009 to September 13, 2009.

Le 14 Juillet: Celebrating Bastille Day French style

This weekend featured a slew of events (like this one and these) in various American cities all in honor of the French national day, commonly referred to as Bastille Day. But even if you missed out on the weekend events, you still have today — which happens to be the actual holiday — to celebrate the ideals of fraternité, égalité et liberté (translation: freedom à la française).

Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which occurred on July 14, 1789. The storming of the famous prison kicked off the French Revolution and was emblematic of the uprising of a modern France that no longer wanted to be controlled by the absolute powers of a monarch. Just like the 4th of July is cause for celebration so is July 14th, so if you’re a francophile at heart, or just need an excuse to throw a good party, here is quick guide to having your own célébration française:

What you need:

  • French baguette
  • French cheese
  • Bottle of French wine
  • Bottle of Champagne
  • Checkered picnic cloth
  • Several savory French dishes


  • Tri-colored clothing (come on, you have to have something left over from the 4th of July)
  • Beret

Don your French gear and throw all necessary items into a picnic basket; Bastille Day is meant to be enjoyed outdoors. If you’re really into it you can even memorize the lyrics to La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, and sing it to your heart’s content. To spice up the afternoon, play a round of pétanque, the popular outdoor game.

See, who ever said you needed to travel to France to enjoy Bastille Day? You can even check out the official Parisian activities here. Bonne fête!