Happy Bastille Day!

Bonne Fête Nationale Française!

I’ve long considered myself somewhat of a Francophile and French was the first language (besides English, of course) that I learnt, although three years of conjugating and learning to talk nasally in high school certainly didn’t make me fluent.  I’ve always been extremely enamored of the stamps of France and her colonies — the detailed engraving of so many of them (even to the present day) are beautiful works of art.

The last time I was on French soil was just over thirteen years ago — an unusual day which involved my travel companion and I illegally entering through the port of Calais (nobody was manning the immigration desk) during a garbage strike and being driven aboard the ferry back to Dover as it was already moving away from the dock!

Red Cross postcard, circa 1918 promoting American and French Independence Days

I always felt there were many bonds between the United States and France, although those were derailed a bit after 9/11 — freedom fries, indeed!   I’ve long celebrated the “twin” holidays of American Independence Day on the fourth of July and La fête nationale on July 14th, both accompanied by fireworks, parades and bunting of red, white and blue.  It’s interesting to note that the first Bastille Day Parade down the present-day route along the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde occurred in 1918 and featured American troops joining the French troops.  The parade became a symbol of solidarity in a common cause even though at this point French and American generals were bitterly fighting with one another.

Bastille Day Parade, Paris 14th July 1918

Please check out my Bastille Day posts on A Stamp Today and Philatelic Pursuits where I illustrate a few appropriate items from my stamp and cover collections, and on “Please, Mr. Postman!” which includes images of a couple of vintage post cards on the subject.

French National Day, 14 July

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