Bastille Day – I had such plans. Firstly, I discovered that only Anglo’s call it Bastille Day and it’s considered really dorky – you know, like calling New York “The Big Apple”. Who knew? The French only call it 14 julliet. Like the 4th of July in the States, I guess.
Anyway, I got up early and hopped on the mobbed metro to get to the Champs to see the parade. I was there very early but everywhere was literally 4 meters thick with people. There were people on gates and trees (until the gendarmes made them come down!). I couldn’t see a thing. I was bummed and I really wanted to see something. So I decided to take Jemma’s (really love that woman!) advice and get back to Neuilly and see the planes up close. She said it was better to see them in Neuilly than on the Champs. So, back on the metro and I went to the square to wait.
The first three planes flew over the Grande Arc with blue, white and red smoke….all the way to down the Champs to the Place de la Concorde (that’s where the much maligned current French Prime Minister (scandal, scandal!) was).
Then the other planes came – all in formation – some in threes, some in fives. They flew over for more than half an hour. It was great to see all the people come out onto their balconies and watch. The planes flew very low. In fact, a little boy – about four or five, was very excited about the planes and was jumping and shouting (Les avions! Les avions!) but when a few flew particularly low, he flopped to the ground, covered his head and yelled to his father “You will die!” Poor guy! Dad picked him and reassured him but he wasn’t convinced – they soon left. Did I mention that it was raining –and not a little shower either – raining in earnest (I loved it!) – poor little guy was soaked!
I couldn’t help but think about the bombings during the War and how the sound of planes so near would’ve been so terrifying back then. We are so fortunate to live in a time and place when the sound of planes (unless you are five!) bring joy and pleasure.
I went down to Jardin des Luxembourg – it should’ve been filled with people picnicking and lolling about, celebrating. Instead there were joggers and a few other tourists. Almost deserted! I went to St. Sulpice (another major rain hit) not only to see it but dry off (I literally had to ring out my skirt – but honestly? I prefer it to the hot, hot, hot sun!) Many others had the same idea. There were a few people snoozing in the chairs, tourists reading maps and couples snuggling in back corners. Since I needed to kill some time, I light a whack of candles and did a few rosaries. If you’re reading this blog, trust me…you were covered!