Crash course: France's Bastille Day

Raise the Tricolore for France's most important public holiday - 'La Fête Nationale' - when all things Gallic are celebrated with a day off work. Quel dommage that it falls on a Sunday...

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The Independent Online



14 JULY 1789

A crowd storms the Bastille fortress, freeing political captives. The end of feudalism is not far behind


14 JULY 1790

A four-day feast in Paris celebrates the end of the absolute monarchy: partygoers even run naked in the streets


14 JULY 1802

Napoleon Bonaparte decides that the date should also be marked by an amnesty, and releases prisoners



Benjamin Raspail, a politician of the Third Republic, proposes that the nation should take the day off work. Of course!


14 JULY 1918

While the Great War rages on, military parades take to the Champs-Élysées for the first time, starting a tradition that endures



With the Nazis in control of Paris, the French national day is quietly forgotten for four years


14 JULY 1979

In the modern era, electro-pioneer Jean Michel Jarre plays to 1 million on the Place de la Concorde


14 JULY 1998

Two days after its football team triumphs in the World Cup, France has a double celebration


14 JULY 2012

François Hollande reinstates the Bastille Day presidential interview - previously scrapped by Sarkozy

Profile: The arch Francophile

By Anne Penketh

When poet Michael Edwards defeated five learned French rivals to become the first Englishman to join the prestigious Académie Française in February it was his last chance to become one of the "immortals" who are elected for life.

The Academy's 40 seats are reserved for those under 75, and Prof. Edwards was 74 when he inherited seat number 31. Now, he shares responsibility for the Academy's rulings on the French language which cause ripples across the land.

The Academy was founded in 1635, tasked with defending the purity of French and compiling the dictionary. It has just announced its annual literary prizes. But its main reputation derives from its linguistic diktats erecting a bulwark against the encroachment of English.

Is it fighting a losing battle? The Academy certainly hasn't thrown in the "serviette" when confronting the invasion of neologisms and anglicisms. Among its latest admonitions to practitioners of the French language: please don't say "l'easy listening", and don't say "le sport business".

How to: Make crêpes Suzette

By Sam Muston

Celebrate le quatorze Juillet with Brunot Loubet's recipe for crêpes Suzette with orange and cardamom. Abridged from Mange Tout, (Random House, £25)

First, make a simple crêpe batter. Then, in a small pan, melt the butter over medium heat until it turns a nutty brown ('beurre noisette'), remove from the heat and pour into the crêpe mixture. Whisk well. Leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes

Spread a thin layer of vegetable oil over the base of a large frying pan, then place it over a medium heat until hot. Pour a large spoonful of batter into the pan, swirling to spread the mixture evenly. Cook briefly and remove – repeat for as many crêpes as are required

Heat sugar in the same pan to make a caramel; add lemon, crushed cardamom and orange zest. Boil, add butter and Grand Marnier. Flambé the alcohol. Add four crêpes to the pan, coating them in the mixture. Spoon on the remaining sauce, add orange segments. Et voilà