Flying Tuesday July 14, 2009.

The flag flying in Vernon Street today will be more easily recognisable than usual. It is the national flag of France (known in French as drapeau tricolore, drapeau français, and in military parlance, les couleurs). Today July 14 is Bastille Day.

Bastille Day is the French national holiday, celebrated on 14 July each year. In France, it is called Fête Nationale ("National Celebration") in official parlance, or more commonly le quatorze juillet ("14 July"). It commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution.

Prise de la Bastille, by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel

The Fête de la Fédération of the 14 July 1790 was a huge feast and official event to celebrate the uprising of the short-lived constitutional monarchy in France and what people considered the happy conclusion of the French Revolution.

Other matters on Batille Day

Bastille Day falls during the Tour de France and is traditionally a day when French riders try to take a stage victory for France, working harder than they might on other days.

The Constitution of France gives the President the authority to pardon offenders. President Sarkozy declined to continue the practice. Sarkozy vowed to clean areas of Paris "with a Kärcher" (nettoyer la cité au Kärcher), referring to a well-known German brand of pressure cleaning equipment, and two days before the 2005 Paris riots he referred to the criminal youth of the housing projects as voyous (thugs) and racaille, a slang term which can be translated into English as rabble, scum or riff-raff.

Listen to La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem, on Youtube:

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