Subject: Re: Bastille Day in Paris

Below are the notes from my journal when I was in Paris for Bastille Day several years ago. One other activity worth mentioning - the night before Bastille Day, many fire stations around Paris host dances or public balls. It is a wonderful opportunity to mix with the locals and maybe enjoy an inexpensive glass of wine or champagne (a party has to have refreshments). I recommend that you get a copy of Pariscope from the local newsstand when you arrive that will probably list the locations of the bals.

Monday was the Fete Nationale - Bastille Day. I was up early to try to get a good viewing spot for the military parade down the Champs Elysses. Can you imagine the US having several hundred thousand people show up to see the army, navy, air force, foreign legion, national police, firemen, etc. march in a parade while also showing off their slick military vehicles - jets, tanks, troop carriers, etc.? It got a little boring after a while watching people walk down the street kind of like the NY St Patricks Day Parade (no bands marched - they stayed on the side streets and played marching music). But it got really exciting when the tanks started cruising down the middle of the street. You could imagine Hitler rolling his Panzer divisions in the exact same spot over 50 years ago. Chilling.

The highlight though was the sound, light and fireworks show Monday night. I joined another huge crowd on the grass at the Champs de Mars (the park in front of the Eiffel Tower). As dusk settled, they turned off all the lights on the Eiffel Tower, cranked up a sound system with ESPN-style sports highlights music, started running generic sports videos - soccer, basketball, boxing, track and field, cycling, tennis, etc. and the fireworks show began! As usual, the only thing to detract from the experience was the d*** cigarette smoke!

Mark Los Angeles