Today is the "biggie" in the French calendar - the French national holiday, in honour of the storming of the Bastille that kicked off the revolution in 1789 (the legend doesn't quite have the story right, of course, but the gist of it is more or less correct). The whole country more or less shuts down, there are firework displays everywhere - though smaller towns just outside bigger cities tend to do their displays on the 13th so as not to be in competition - and, traditionally, there are military parades during the day, parties (often organised by the fire brigade, for some reason) after the fireworks. A jolly day all round.
Obviously, as I'm not actually French (despite living here since 1992...), 14 July has never had a huge amount of significance for me. I've been to firework displays, and have enjoyed them, but it's not part of my culture, it doesn't mean anything.
Last night, D picked the girls up at 9 and took them to a firework display held by a small town just outside Montpellier, which does a wonderful job at a manmade lake in a former quarry. D and I went together, without the girls (who refused to go for years because they found fireworks too noisy and too scary), a few years ago and it was wonderful, one of the best displays I've seen. The girls said they enjoyed it last night.
That meant that there was absolutely no motivation to trek out to wherever Montpellier does its display - way out of town, meaning tramways and shuttle buses and crowds and gaaaaaah - and, whilst I enjoy a good firework display as much as anyone, I'm not particularly distraught, I have to say. As there are no barracks here in Montpellier either, the "parade" is kind of half-hearted too, so we skipped that and D took the girls swimming at the lake (the same one as last night's display, in fact) this afternoon instead.
14 July is also the birthday of our neighbours' little boy, who was 3 today, and one of my best friends in England's daughter turned 1. Oh, and my grandmother would have been 106 today if she hadn't died way back in 1988.
But most of all, 14 July is the day AFTER the anniversary of the worst day of my life, and will always be a good day for that reason alone. It means it's a whole year till the next wretched anniversary.
Happy Bastille Day!