In France, people mark the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution on July 14, 1789 with parades, fireworks and parties. There, the holiday that we refer to as Bastille Day, is more commonly called La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) or Le Quartorze Juilett (the fourteenth of July).
Here in Chicago, Bastille Day is celebrated with festivals, food, fun and even fitness. Since the holiday falls on Monday, July 14, you can count on the French-flavored festivities to start up over the weekend, building up to the actual holiday.
With a variety of celebrations planned for Bastille Day across the city, it's easy to find a way to commemorate the holiday with your family.
Here are four great ways to celebrate Bastille Day with your family in Chicago:
1. Indulge in a French culinary treat. When you think of France, it's hard not to think about its food - especially pastries. With so many wonderful French restaurants, cafes and bakeries in Chicago, Bastille Day is the perfect excuse to try a new one and indulge in the French culinary treat of your choice.
One of my favorite French indulgences are macarons, the small, colorful merinque cookies often filled with ganache, buttercream or jam. You can find my list of the best places to sample macarons in Chicago here.
For the holiday, Toni Patisserie and Cafe is baking up macarons in the colors of the French tricolore flag - blue, white and red. Heading to a Bastille Day party? Then, you'll want to pick up some festive Eiffel Tower and french flag cookies, too. Keeping up with the blue, white and red theme, Toni's also will be serving up raspberry and blueberry clafoutis dusted with powdered sugar and a strawberry and blueberry tarte dressed with whipped cream. You can visit one of Toni Patisserie and Cafe's two Chicago-area locations in the Loop and west suburban Hinsdale.
For a sampling of French culinary treats, you can head to the Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton St.) for its Taste of the Chicago French Market on Saturday, July 12 from 11 am to 3 pm. At the event, you can sample a variety of French foods from Chicago French Market vendors, including a flight of three different crepes from FliP Crepes, single cheese plates from Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine, and a flight of three flavors of Parisian macarons from Vanille Patisserie.
For a meal in an authentic French bistro, you can head to Bistronomic (840 N. Wabash Ave.) in the Gold Coast. For the holiday, the French bistro is offering its Classic Steak Frites for $17.89 - a subtle ode to the momentous year. You also can select the 3-Course Bastille Day Chef's Tasting Menu for $40. The restaurant's Bastille Day offerings are available starting on Saturday, July 12, running through Bastille Day on Monday, July 14.
In Streeterville, you can stop by Bistrot Zinc (1131 N. State St.) to enjoy its special Bastille Day prix fixe menu for $32.95 per person, available on Bastille Day from 5 - 10 p.m. The French Queen Marie Antoinette, famous for boldly stating "let them eat cake!," will pass out complimentary cake to all Bistrot Zinc guests on Monday, July 14.
2. Run to your heart's delight in Lincoln Park. On Thursday, July 10, you and your family can take to the streets of Lincoln Park in a 5k or 8k run. The Bastille Day 5k/8k Run and Block Party begins across from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N. Cannon Dr.). The 8k run starts at 7:15 pm, with the 5k runners heading out 15 minutes later at 7:30 pm.
You can celebrate your finish at a post-race block party held near the finish line.
Online registration for the run is now closed. But, you can still register in person at Road Runner Sports Lincoln Park (1435 N. Kingsbury St.) on Wednesday, July 9 from 12 - 7:30 pm, and at the event site on race day starting at 5:15 pm.
Please note that minors must be accompanied by an adult and have a signed waiver to participate in the run.
3. Toast the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge in the heart of Chicago. You can join your fellow Chicagoans at Bastille Day Chicago, the city's celebration of the French national holiday, in Daley Plaza on Monday, July 14. The free event takes place from 5 - 9 pm - just perfect to visit after work or camp.
During the evening event, you can plan to hear live French music, play a game of French pétanque, watch La Course de Garcons de Café (a race where waiters run while balancing trays), and sample food from local restaurants and bakeries.
4. Enjoy a French book, magazine or movie with your family. Bastille Day can be a good day to expose your children to the French language and culture. You can visit The Brown Médiathèque at the Alliance Française de Chicago (810 N. Dearborn St.) to read one of the library's children's books and magazines. Alliance Française members can check out books, magazines, DVDs and more from the French cultural center, located in the Gold Coast.
Online French bookseller, Lectures de France, is offering 15 percent off of all purchases through Monday, July 14. Lectures de France offers books for children, teens and adults.
How do you plan to celebrate Bastille Day? Please share your plans in the comments below.
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