One of my NYC traditions (is it a tradition if I’ve only done it twice?!) is celebrating Bastille Day. Why, you might think, do I celebrate the French national holiday in NYC? New York City has a large French and francophone community and, each year, this community gathers together to put on a large Bastille Day celebration on 60th Street between 5th Avenue and Lexington. Hosted by Alliance Française, this fête lasts for five hours and welcomes tens of thousands of guests.
Last year’s Bastille Day celebration was super special because everyone gathered to watch the French national team play in the World Cup. It was an incredible experience (and I got to refresh my French football vocabulary and national anthem skills…)
For Bastille Day in NYC, I always stroll from one end to the other before purchasing anything. After all, I gotta make sure I know everything there is to buy before I make my decisions! I mainly beeline for the French pastries because I’m #obsessed, but you can also find North African food, crêpes, falafel, kebabs, lottery entries for trips, information booths about French schools and TV and radio stations, and information about other French communities in NYC. This year they were also giving out free yogurt and Haagen Dazs.
Bastille Day in NYC is, coincidentally, the only time I will voluntarily enter an incredibly crowded place. #doitforthepastries It is absolutely jam packed with people and moving anywhere is like trout trying to swim upstream (at least that’s how I picture it). This not only made it hard for me to get cool pictures but also made me a little too panicky to thoroughly enjoy everything.
Unfortunately, to stave off a panic attack, I bought as many pastries as I could comfortably justify and hurried back to my apartment for some calm water, a little pastry photo shoot (purely to keep myself from eating all of them right away) and some reading.
All in all, it was a successful day (there’s nothing more empowering than fighting off a panic attack) AND I got pastries out of it. I also got to practice my French a bit, which is always a good confidence boost. I just wish Bastille Day in NYC weren’t as popular so I could enjoy more of it to myself…
Have you ever celebrated Bastille Day in NYC before?