Bastille Day & a Summer Pique-Nique!
Cue La Marseillaise playing triumphantly in the background...
Happy Bastille Day! (Or as they properly say in France, Bonne Fête Nationale!)
Believe or not, Bastille Day is not an exact reference to the storming of the Bastille. It actually references a different historical event: la Fête de la Fédération (Festival of the Federation), a mass gathering held on July 14, 1790.
It's true that in 1789, the people of Paris stormed the Bastille: a political prison, a symbol of the monarchy, and most importantly, an armory. The people badly needed the weapons, ammunition, and powder to fight the royal troops in Paris.
When we fast forward one year, we can note that on July 14, 1790, la Fête de la Fédération was designated to inaugurate a new era. This new epoch found abolished absolutism and gave birth to a French constitutional monarchy.
P'Niche will definitely dedicate more time to the French Revolution and to the American forefathers in Paris, so we hope you will subscribe to join us again in the Parisian Niche.
For today, just note that the famous war hero, Lafayette (who was present at both The American and French Revolutions), led this military parade, which also included a mass, celebrated by Talleyrand. This day was to signify the start of a period of national unity.
La Fête Nationale became an official national holiday in 1880, and is today commemorated with the largest military parade in Europe, along the Champs-Élysées.
In the evening, there are fireworks and the famous Bal des Pompiers (The Firemen's Ball). But, during the daytime of la Fête Nationale ... it's picnic time!
Ahhhh, the picque-nique. It's P’Niche’s favorite way to apéro... So, how did this word originate? Well, there are two options: “Picquer”, which means leisurely eating (picking) or secondly, a delicacy of food. “Nique” was selected simply as it rhymed with Pique.
Historians have found this French word in references outside of the French language as early as 1748, and in the English language by around 1800.
Putting together your own picque-nique? Such fun! You will want to pack a certain amount of supplies. The first is... a picnic blanket. A little P'Niche insider tip: under my picnic blanket, I put an old (but clean) shower curtain liner to avoid any "soggy bottoms." Works like a charm!
You'll pack beverages of all sorts. Wine (don't forget the corkscrew), beers, and some mock-tail options for your non drinkers and designated drivers.
Pack lots of water. It gets hot under that mid-day picnic sun (psst - pack sunscreen!)
You'll also pack glassware or plasticware, plates, cutlery, napkins and serving pieces.
As to food, the chic P'Niche hostess will always check her guests' dietary needs before packing her picnic hamper.
In our feast, we typically include:
· Baguette/s and Crackers
· Brie Cheese
· Bleu Cheese
· Chèvre Cheese
· Prosciutto & Saucisson Sec Slices
· Pitted Olives
· Red Grapes
· Macarons or Cookies
· Fun French Flag Toothpicks
· Lots of Napkins
Hmmmm, what does a chic P'Nicher wear to a Bastille Day Picnic?
Now might be the perfect time to break out your Breton top! On the bottom, you will want to wear either trousers or culottes. Ladies, if you do wear a skirt or dress, make sure it's a midi or maxi length for your ease and less chance of "accidental flash." Picnic chic, P'Nichers!
Did you know that on any given Summer evening, approximately 25% of the Parisian population gathers outside to picnic for their evening meal – in groups or even alone, it’s totally accepted and encouraged. Vive le picque-nique!
When I am lucky enough to Picnic in Paris, I head to:
· Champs de Mars (by Eiffel Tower)
2, all. Adrienne Lecouvreur, 75007
Métro: Dupleix (Line 6)
· Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges, 75004
Métro: Bastille (Lines 1, 5, 8)
· Parc Monceau
35, blvd de Courcelles, 75008
Métro: Monceau (Line 2)
· Arènes de Lutèce
49, rue Monge, 75005
Métro: Place Monge (Line 7)
Certainly this picnic location list seems quite condensed, but fear not, P'Nicher, we will dig in (get it?) more in future posts, so do make sure to subscribe to return to the Parisian Niche...
When in Paris, I get picnic supplies at:
· Monoprix (many locations)
P'Niche fave - 23, ave de l'Opéra, 75001
· La Grande Épicerie de Paris
38, rue de Sèvres 75007
· Publicis Drugstore
133, avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008
In Paris and don't want to deal with the hassle of setting up? No worries! You can actually pre-book a gourmet feast through this (non sponsored) picnic planning service!
Not in Paris this Bastille Day? Pas de problème!
You can get cool (non-sponsored) picnic items with ease.
This eco-friendly cutlery set
A tisket, a tasket, this charming basket
French flag picks
And, just to get in the mood...
If you plan to be out enjoying the day for some time, it might be fun to bring along your pétanque set for a friendly match!
What do you think, P'Nichers? Ready to get your Bastille Day Pique-Nique on? Let us know what you think in the comments below et à bientôt!
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