You can divide the French population in two camps: those who go on vacation in July, and those who skip town in August.
My own family was unequivocally juillettiste (August vacationers are called aoûtiens) so Bastille Day found us in the French Alps every year, crossing our fingers that the summer thunderstorms wouldn’t rain on our parade, quite literally.
These are the sweetest of childhood memories, the years blurring together into a single evening: the walk through the village carrying candle-lit lanterns, the fireworks, the stars in our young eyes, and the soft, unique feeling of being scooped up from the car fast asleep and carried into bed late at night.
As I became an adult, I soon lost the habit of celebrating le quatorze juillet: crowds make me anxious, and after a failed attempt to watch the Eiffel Tower fireworks from the heights of Montmartre (surprise, surprise, others had had the same idea), I pretty much gave up.
But now that I have kids, it’s different; now is the time their own childhood memories are formed (no pressure, right?). And as it turns out, my American friend and fab Pilates instructor* Emily recently moved into an apartment with a breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower, and she threw a small party for some friends and their children to enjoy the fireworks**.
Dinner was assembled potluck-style, and the theme was “Typically French”.