Bonjour tout le monde! And welcome to our French day.
Does anyone know why we were playing this music? It’s called the Marseillaise and is the French national anthem. It was written by a French soldier for the Marseilles (South of France) soldiers for their march to Paris and then later was taken up as the French national anthem.
One reason for this occasion is to celebrate the fact that we’ve been learning French for one year and another reason is that 14th July was Bastille Day. Can anyone tell me what Bastille Day is?
Basically it’s the French national day. Fête Nationale des Français. Each year the French have a national holiday on this day . That means no school or work . It’s called Bastille Day because in 1789 on 14th July after a spell of problems in Paris with the Government, the King Louis 16th and poor harvests the people of Paris rioted and seized weapons from various places and then after some shooting stormed the Bastille which was an ancient fortress which was used as a prison. This event is known to be the beginning of the French Revolution.
Before the revolution France had a monarchy that is Kings and Queens like our Queen Elizabeth second and Queen Victoria but in France the people had got fed up with the way the Kings and Queens lived extravagantly spending lots of the country’s money on their palaces and other luxuries. The last king was called Louis 16th and he had a wife called Marie Antoinette. One of the most famous things she is aid to have said is, when she heard that the people of Paris were starving because of the bad harvest and lack of bread, LET THEM EAT CAKE. This just shows how out of touch the King and Queen were with their people.
After the fall of the monarchy and the execution of King Louis 16th, The French Republic came into existence and eventually the King was replaced by a President. Does anyone know who the President of France is Now? A symbol of the Republic is Marianne. She appears on Stamps/government buildings. She wears a special hat which is the same as the one worn by freed slaves in Ancient Greece. So the Republic is seen as freedom from the chains of monarchy.
Another symbol of the Republic is the Tricolore flag: Red white and blue like the colours you are wearing today. The three colours originate from a red/white and blue rosette worn at the time of the revolution. White was the royal colour and blue and red were the colours of Paris.
So on the 14th July each year the French in Paris and in other parts of France celebrate the beginning of the revolution with meals/picnics/shows/dancing and fireworks. In Paris there is always a military parade on the Champs-Elysées. Here are some pictures of some Bastille Day celebrations in Paris. Bastille Day