Independence Day…Bastille Day

Fourth of July…July 14th

The United States and France each become world renowned revolutions in the late 1700s; following a desire for liberty and equal rights of mankind and new political systems rejecting monarchies.  New nations were born!

On July 4th in 1776, the American Continental Congress approved and signed the Declaration of Independence, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. The Declaration of Independence signaled the birth of a new nation.  It took a lot of will power and motivation to fight against the world’s most powerful army.  But Americans were fighting for something they strongly believed in; from then on its history.

The Declaration of Independence is a core statement of democratic values and development of liberties pertaining to human nature itself.

Fourth of July celebrations are marked with red, white and blue flags, fireworks, parades and backyard barbecues across the country.  It’s a time of patriotic speeches and military honors.  It’s a time of brotherhood and celebration.  Fireworks were officially approved as early as 1777.  New York hosts the biggest fireworks show that lasts a half hour. Almost every part of the United States holds its fireworks display to let out a big whoopee to freedom and human rights!

The era of new political thinking, renouncing monarch’s authority, was lighting a flame on the other side of the Atlantic as well.  The French Revolution lasted from 1789 until 1799, and was partially carried forward by Napoleon during the later expansion of the French Empire. It is difficult to say when the revolution began, but is marked by Bastille Day, the 14th of July 1789 when opponents of Louis XVI and his new assembly stormed the Prison of Bastille to set political prisoners free and capture an important stock of arms and munitions.

The famous Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizens was proclaimed a month later and no other than Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and close friend of General Lafayette, influenced this fundamental document.  Exactly a year later the 14th of July was officially recognized as the celebration of the French nation.

The Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizens inspired the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

French celebrate Bastille Day much the same way as Americans.  The Champs Elysée becomes the parade grounds of national military branches.  Official air forces fly over the capitol with aerobatic prowess and color the sky with “bleu blanc rouge” clouds.  Patriotic speeches and commemorates are given in the communities throughout France.  And of course there are plenty of festivities.  Not to mention the great cycling spectacle of the “Tour de France” that lasts the month of July.

Bastille Day has a different significance for DISCOVER FRANCE.  It’s when our guests “raid” the Tour de France.  Our riders cross the finish line of the stage race moments before the pro racers, followed by a photo session on the podium.  Then they top it off with a bird’s eye view on the finish line and a champagne toast to the stage winner!