Today is Bastille Day, the French national holiday that commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 and the beginning of the French Revolution.
The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute power of Louis XVI. The revolution marked an end to the monarchy and the birth of a sovereign nation and, in 1792, the creation of the first country's first Republic.
Bastille Day is to the French what Independence Day is to us in the United States.
I've always been a Francophile, loving all things French. My fascination for France began long before I ever traveled there. My first visit, in 1995, sparked the passion I have for the country now.
I love Paris. In the springtime, anytime. I love Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Côte d'Azur and Provence. Each is uniquely beautiful; all hold special places in my heart for the memories created there.
I love French food and wine. Years after the fact, I can't purchase a baguette here in Houston without being reminded of the first one I bought in Paris - at a small bakery near Notre Dame.
I've always wanted to travel to France in July and be there for Bastille Day. But, so for, that's not happened. Even so, I always keep an eye on festivities there (via cable news) and do a bit of celebrating here.
Tonight I was with friends who share my love of France. We dressed in all black, donned berets and gathered at a private home. There, we listened to French music and drank French wine. Those who could speak French did and made fun of those of us who only understand (non-spoken) four-letter words.
For dinner, we were treated to a menu that featured Soupe à l'Oignonlarge (onion soup with grated swiss cheese) and Poulet aux Porto (chicken breast sauteed in a port wine mushroom cream sauce). For dessert, we enjoyed a delicious Crème Brûlée and strong French Roast Coffee.
The meal lasted for hours and many stories of French adventures were shared. We talked about doing this all again next year. Someone volunteered to play host. Another volunteered to bring the wine. The rest of us promised to be there — berets and all.
One more good reason to say, "Vive la France."