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People enjoy being together for Bastille Day 2018 at Van Vleck House & Gardens. COURTESY RONNY GUERRA/FIAF

Bastille Day Celebration in Montclair
Sunday, July 14, 5–9 p.m.
Van Vleck House & Gardens, 21 Van Vleck St. ,
Cocktail Hour, 5–6 p.m.
Garden Party, 6–9 p.m.

Tickets available at fiaf.org/newjersey
For additional information contact Marie-Catherine Glaser at 973-783-0507 or email fiafnj@fiaf.org

By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

America is not the only country that uses a number and a month to signify its national day.

Just as more people say “July 4th” than “Independence Day,” in France, according to Marie-Catherine Glaser, director of FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française), French National Day is called the 14th of July, not Bastille Day.

On July 14, 1789, the people of Paris stormed the Bastille, a French fortress where people could be locked up on royal indictments that did not need a reason. 

Although there were only seven inmates in the Bastille at the time of the attack, the event was a turning point in the French Revolution, and it is commemorated with an annual military parade on the Champs-Élysées.

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MARIE-CATHERINE GLASER

“It brings together the French community,” said Glaser. Around the world, the day is also an opportunity to celebrate with French language lovers.

FIAF will celebrate on Sunday, July 14, at Van Vleck House & Gardens, 21 Van Vleck St., beginning at 5 p.m. 

This year, FIAF chose a New Orleans jazz band, New York-based ensemble Gumbo Royale, for the celebration. “Jazz is a nice theme, particularly this year, because the French just celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day,” Glaser said. “It is a nice way to honor the American legacy in France, the American presence after the second World War. Jazz became very popular in the clubs in Paris.”

Louisiana also represents an important part of French heritage, she said.

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The region was originally named “La Louisiane” after Louis XIV of France, and though it passed to Spain in 1763, many French-speakers and much French culture remained.

“These are the two sides of ties between France and America,” said Glaser.  Because Bastille Day falls on a Sunday, there will be a “pre-party” cocktail event at 5 p.m., before the buffet begins at 6. 

The buffet, which will have a New Orleans twist, will be prepared by Michelin-rated chef Nicholas Houlbert (Boulud, Ze Kitchen Galerie); boulanger Arben Gasi, owner and chef of Montclair’s Le French Dad Bakery & Café, will provide breads and desserts.

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Gumbo Royale will play at FIAF’s Bastille Day Celebration. COURTESY FIAF

While the 14th of July is celebrated very much the same way as July 4, with parades, fireworks, and firing up the grill, one thing that’s a little different is  ‘Le bal du Quatorze Juillet,’” Glaser said.

“We have music, because traditionally we meet in the evening and dance,” she explained.

 But don’t be fooled by the word “ball:” it’s not a long gloves and tuxedo affair. “It’s usually on the streets,” Glaser said with a laugh. “There is accordion. It’s more like folk music, it’s called ‘la musette.’ It is a popular celebration, and it brings everyone together.”

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