In France, 14 Julliet (July 14) commemorates the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution. In the United States, the holiday is know as Bastille Day. And, in Chicago, there are lots of great, family-friendly ways for everyone to celebrate the holiday.
Of course, Chicagoans never miss an opportunity to celebrate any holiday – especially ones that pay homage to the multicultural mix of people who make up its residents and visitors. So, it’s not surprising that Bastille Day celebrations are already underway, lasting up through Sunday, July 14.
Here are my top five ways to celebrate Bastille Day with your family in Chicago:
1) Run or Walk
On Thursday, July 11, runners, walkers and their cheerleaders can head to Lincoln Park (Cannon Drive and Fullerton Avenue) to participate in the Bastille Day 5K and 8K Run/Walk and Block Party. The course takes you through Lincoln Park and ends with a post-race party outside of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.
To me, the Bastille Day 5K and 8K is a great way to get your energized for a celebration-packed weekend. Plus, you can’t beat the chance to burn off a few calories before you indulge in some French delicacies for Bastille Day.
2) Watch and Learn
One of my favorites places to experience some of France’s greatest pleasures in Chicago is the Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton Street) – bien sur. So, it should come as no surprise that I can’t wait to head there to celebrate Bastille Day there in true French culinary style on Saturday, July 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Chicago French Market kicks things off a day early with a cooking demonstration by Le Bouchon’s Head Chef Jean Claude Poilevey and his son, Sous Chef Oliver Poilevey. Once you’ve picked up a few French cooking tips, you can enjoy the musical stylings of the Sarah Young Trio.
Of course, while you’re there, you also can enjoy macarons from Vanille Patisserie, a bahn mi sandwich from Saigon Sisters, a sandwich from Pastoral and other delicious lunchtime treats.
3) Eat and Savor
Nothing says Bastille Day to a macaron aficionado like me more than a red, white and blue macaron. That’s why I was so glad to hear that Toni Patisserie and Cafe (65 E. Washington St.) has been offering a wide-range of French and American themed pastries and savory items to celebrate the Fourth of July and Bastille Day. It’s all part of its aptly named Summer of Sweet Independence Celebration.
In addition to macarons, you can indulge your patriotic sweet dreams with a blueberry and cherry gelée striped with Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta; a raspberry and blueberry clafoutis tart dusted with powdered sugar; heirloom tomato salad with French bleu cheese, arugula and balsamic glaze; watermelon gazpacho with pickled blueberries and jicama – and more.
4) Cheer and Enjoy
Anyone who craves the thrill and excitement of the Tour de France can get a taste of the action right here in Chicago with Le Tour d’Henriot. The cycling race, which starts and ends outside of Webster Wine Bar (1480 W. Webster Ave.), features more than 15 teams representing restaurants and wine retailers from across the city.
The teams, which get dressed in fun and festive costumes, take a leisurely 14-mile cruise throughout Chicago, ending their “tour” back at the Webster Wine Bar. The winning team is toasted at the post-race party, and all of the proceeds go to raise money for Working Bikes, a nonprofit volunteer organization that recovers donated and landfill-bound bicycles and finds them new homes with people at homeless transition, refugee resettlement and youth empowerment programs in Chicago.
5) Toast and Celebrate
Last year, my family attended the first-ever Bastille Day Chicago 2013 in Chicago. Held in the heart of Chicago at Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St.), it’s a great way for Francophiles and Francophones to come together to toast all things French in Chicago. Back for it’s second year, it will sure to be even bigger and better.
The free event, which runs from 4 – 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, offers a wide-range of music and entertainment that appeals to all ages. This year, families should head to the Kid’s Corner where children can play a bag toss game, do arts and crafts, and listen to a story – while learning French at the same, fun time. Children also will enjoy sliding down the famous Picasso statue that graces Daley Plaza. Last year, my sons spent well over an hour climbing up and sliding down the statue – and making friends along the way.
Of course, at the event, you can treat your family to crepes, sandwiches, macarons and other French delights. And, even buy some French souvenirs from La Boutique to mark your trip to France via Chicago.
Interested in finding out about even more ways to celebrate Bastille Day in Chicago? Then, be sure to also check out my Bastille Day celebrations article in My French Life.
How do you plan to celebrate Bastille Day in Chicago? Would you add any events, activities or festivals to my list? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.