The biggest French national holiday is arguably Bastille Day, though the French don't call it that. En français, It's simply le 14 juillet. And for fourteen years now, the Alliance Française of Portland has organized a Bastille Day festival the weekend before July 14th. This year's fête was held outside the Portland Art Museum, with the usual mélange of colorful vendors' booths, live accordion music, a wine garden, and mouthwatering treats for gourmands of all ages.
My children were initially too intimidated to try fencing (l'escrime) but they weren't intimidated at all by the pains au chocolat. My husband didn't need any convincing to indulge them, though he noted that at three dollars, these pains were triple the price compared to their one-Euro counterparts in France. Tant pis--a skillfully made pain au chocolat always seems to be worth the cost!
The predicted rain held off, but a few unexpected wind gusts sent brochures flying, and one unfortunate woman was struck in the temple by an airborne patio umbrella. After bystanders helped her regain her equilibrium, someone else removed the umbrellas while the accordionist, Jet Black Pearl, resumed her playing.
After getting an airbrushed tattoo of a Pokémon character (Pikachu must be a francophile, n'est-ce pas?), my son was attracted to the book sale, and we left with two pocket-sized French books about animals to add to our home library. The books were carefully written, but their evident age made me grateful for the amazing quality of the French books we receive through Les Petits Livres.
Towards the end of the afternoon, a costume contest replaced the traditional waiter's race that took place in years past. You can view a video of the contest on the Facebook page of the Alliance Française de Portland, with the winners announced in the fourth minute.
My family ended our Bastille festival visit by circling back to the fencing area, and both my children found themselves wanting to try out fencing after all!
Vive la France, et vive la francophonie!