Destinations, Europe, France, Journal

Breathtaking Beauty

July 19, 2014

Dennis and I had the pleasure of being in Paris on Bastille Day, the French National Day [basically the French 4th of July]. It was super cool because there were tons of activities throughout the city. We met a Parisian named Olivier, who was our AirBnB “landlord” per say. He told us that Bastille Day is technically only one day, but Parisians typically take the entire week off to celebrate.

We spent much of our time in Paris wandering. It was a perfect wandering experience on Bastille Day. We went to several different areas of the city that day by looking for places that people recommended for us to go, places to eat, and sites to see. We found some excellent places that friends recommended, as well as some other random highlights.

One of my favorite areas that we went the entire time in Paris was Le Marais on Bastille Day. There are tons of stores and little boutiques that I was swooning over. Dennis was a good sport in letting me window shop. I made sure to write down every single store that I loved, so I could shop online later 🙂

We took a break in a little park in the center where people lounged on blankets on the grass relaxing and basking in the warmth of the first sunny day in two weeks. It was great to just people watch and see all the kids run around with their cones of gelato, girls with mounds of shopping bags and a colorful box of macarons, and groups of friends just hanging out over some cheese and wine.

We went to two delish little food places in Le Marais. One was recommended by a friend and it is called L’As Du Fallafel. There was a long line to order at the counter [there’s really no seating, you just order and pick up your food]. We hadn’t even had a chance to see the menu yet, when a worker came up to us with a notepad and pen and said, “Falafel?” To which I responded, “Uh…sure?”

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We weren’t really sure what we were going to get, but we were very pleasantly surprised with the result. We were given pita bread filled with falafel and some sort of veggies, with this amazing tzatiziki sauce and I of course got spicy sauce on mine as well. It. Was. Amazing.

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A little later we got some dessert at La Droguerie. We got a nutella and banana crepe that was to die for. Also, the guy who was making it was super funny and joking around with us, so that’s always a plus too.

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So, that brings us to the main event of the day–the Bastille Day firework show. Olivier gave us some tips about where to go for the show. Got off the train at the station he mentioned to us and were met with a loading area packed with a sea of people. We slowly shimmied our way out of the train station and were blown away at how packed the area was already–three hours before the show.

We got some snacks and found a place where we could see a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and made camp there waiting for dark. We ran into some folks from Boston who were standing next to us. It was a mom and her two adult children and they were hilarious. They were telling boisterous stories [very loudly] and giving us all the details about how they breed french bulldogs and have tattoos of all of their animals.

Dennis and I didn’t say much, we just listened to them banter back and fourth. They definitely made the time pass by super quickly, and before we knew it–it was showtime.

I was starting to get a nasty cold, so I kind of felt like crap the whole evening, but when it finally got dark and the show started, it was all worth it.

This brings me to my piece of joy from the day–breathtaking beauty.

I have never experienced something quite like this show. It was absolutely magnificent.

We were ushered into the evening with live orchestra and operatic choir as a prelude to the event. The music shifted into the French national anthem, and the crowd burst into patriotic song.

There were hundreds, maybe thousands of people packed into this block trying to snag a view of the tower, singing their anthem at the top of their lungs, but the noisy crowd fell silent when it all began.

The orchestra began playing a soft and almost dream-like song, and small red fireworks burst near the base of the Eiffel Tower.

One of the Boston folks said in her distinct accent, “I thought the fireworks would be a little bit high-ah than that.”

She spoke a bit too soon.

Perfectly choreographed with the crescendos of the music, the fireworks became bigger, brighter and rose higher, matching the intensity of the song.

The oohs and aahs started setting in.

The show lasted nearly 40 minutes of choreographed fireworks, matching the different songs played by the orchestra and sung by the choir.

It was almost as if we were watching a ballet of light, as the fireworks danced from the Eiffel Tower in perfect sync.

I tried to strike a balance of getting some of the pieces on film and simply allowing myself to be mesmerized by the show. When I put my camera down [partly out of frustration, because I messed something up so it wasn’t staying in focus. Rawr.] and partly because I wanted to just enjoy the experience, my jaw completely dropped watching and listening to what was happening–it was breathtakingly beautiful.

Even though I thought my sinuses were going to explode from my impending cold, and it was way past my bedtime, it was completely worth it.

I tried to put together a couple of clips to hopefully portray a little of what we saw. I’m sure it doesn’t do it justice, but a little snippet definitely helps paint the picture!

With all that being said, a day full of falafels and fireworks is a good day in my book.

xo Kelsey

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