Bastille Day Festival 2016

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Storm the barricades! It’s Bastille Day in Yaletown, downtown Vancouver!

Now you can get a taste of what it’s like to be in Paris on the French Independence Day and you don’t even have to board a plane to do it. Just channel your inner Cosette or Jean Valjean, hum a few bars of “I Dreamed A Dream” and march down to the Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews) for the Bastille Day Festival.

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The event runs from 11 a.m. to midnight, (July 14 this year) and includes everything from a French market offering unique French delicacies, to a kid’s corner, green village, traditional ‘waiter’s race’ — perhaps where they ignore customers for as long as possible? — and even a Pétanque tournament (French lawn bowling.) Oh, and don’t forget the beer garden. Oooh la la.

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The Bal des Pompiers party (19 years minimum, ID required, $15 at the door) wraps up the day, with music starting at 8 p.m., and joie de vivre until midnight.

And save a few francs (okay, dollars) for the raffle. Tickets are $5 and the prizes are incroyable!

So, on this day celebrating French culture and history, here’s a little history, straight from the Grade 9 curriculum, to help you understand the importance of Bastille Day.

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Place de la bastille on the 14th of July

On the 14th of July, 1789, the commoners making up the Third Estate in France, stormed the fortress and prison in Paris known as Bastille. This prison only held seven inmates at the time, but it represented the grand authority of the French royals.

The rebels breeched the fortress walls, freed the prisoners and killed a governor then sawed off his head and attached it to a pike to be carried through the streets of Paris. (This game is not offered during today’s Yaletown festival.) The fall of Bastille was the flashpoint of the French Revolution. After it had ended, the 14th of July was declared the French independence day and is now a national holiday.

Now, every year at Place de la Bastille in Paris, where the prison once stood, huge celebrations are held.

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La Prise de la Bastille!

Sponsors of today’s event in Yaletown include Air France, The Georgia Straight, Mark Anthony Wines and Spirits, Alliance Française, City of Vancouver, Consulat général de France á Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia.

Note: The editor sends all sympathy from Quokka Systems’ to France in support after the terrible events in Nice.

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