It was supposed to be a day of celebration. After the Fourth of July, we were primed and ready for a fête, this time honoring Francois’ home country.

Each year the French Embassy opens its doors to French citizens to come enjoy a night of live music, dancing, and never-ending service of French hors d’oeuvres, champagne, wine and beer. The anticipation was high on a stiflingly hot and sticky Washington D.C. evening.

Bastille Day party Washington, D.C.

It’s amazing there is no visible sweat on either one of us.

Dress: Dillard’s (I had difficulty finding a similar dress, but I happen to like this one.)
Sandals: Ann Taylor (similar)
The French ambassador to the United States kicks off the evening every year with a brief address to the crowd – first in French, then in English. As he began speaking, I picked up words like “terrorism,” “Paris,” “Orlando,” and a conspicuous new addition: “Nice.” At first thinking he was opening by acknowledging the challenges we continue to face in fighting global terror, I quickly realized that something else was going on. The faces in the audience fell. People began checking their phones. I opened mine, seeing a headline on the screen: Truck Plows Into Bastille Day Crowd in Nice. More than 50 were presumed dead at the time.
Bastille Day party Washington, D.C.

French ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud addressing the Bastille Day crowd at the French Embassy.

The ambassador, Gérard Araud, announced that there would be no music, no dancing, and no champagne this night. The rest of the party would go on, but this was no longer a celebration – for good reason. He emphasized the importance of remembering and realizing France’s ideals in the wake of this new tragedy: liberté, égalité, fraternité. Liberty, equality, fraternity. He echoed this sentiment in other public statements.
Bastille Day party Washington, D.C.

The mood was understandably somber at the conclusion of his address, but did turn more jovial – and competitive – once the food began to be passed around.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that each year, French chefs have prepared mountains of French finger food for which the crowd goes absolutely berserk. It really is a sight to behold: middle-aged women elbowing each other out of the way to get a taste of liver pâté; men plucking mini sandwiches off of platters as they are being taken to tables; crowds of people angling to get the last slice of toast topped with chèvre and fig jam. It’s every man for himself out there.

What the people forget every year in their bum rush to the toast and brie is that the chefs have prepared so much food that nobody will go hungry. By about the fifth round of passed plates, people aren’t so grabby anymore. There are always leftovers. But don’t tell that to the person who just saw the first plate of mini quiches emerge from the kitchen!

Bastille Day party Washington, D.C.

Keeping French-American relations strong since 2013.

As the sun went down and temperatures cooled off, we made our way outside to get some fresh air.
The desserts were just as good (and equally in demand) as the savory hors d’oeuvres.
Bastille Day party Washington, D.C.

Shamallows, macarons, and mini madeleines.

It turned out to be a beautiful evening despite the horrible events that had unfolded in Nice. The partygoers struck a respectful balance of tempering the festivities with having the resilience to honor the Bastille Day holiday and keep the French spirit alive.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected in Nice.

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