La Fête de la Bastille – le 14 Juillet
How to host a French Riviera-style Bastille Day celebration.
This year, Bastille Day falls on a Sunday so there is no better excuse to hang on to your red, white and blue decorations for a little longer and throw a French Riviera-style chic summer soirée!
“Bastille Day” is France’s national holiday. “La Bastille” refers to the storming of La Bastille, a turning point in the French Revolution that happened on July 14th 1789. Today, the French celebrate Bastille Day much like we celebrate July 4th in the US or July 1st in Canada – with wonderful friends, great food and beautiful wines!
Outdoors. Wether it is poolside or in the park, Bastille day is best spent outdoors. Lay out a blue table cloth, put out some white plates and add some red flowers in little bud vases. Simple and elegant while perfectly on point. Decorate how you wish with bleu, blanc, rouge being the primary colors or else simply let the food, the wine and the conversation do all the talking. Your event will feel French regardless of the decorations you choose, especially if you are playing French music!
I personally love hosting events on a Sunday evening because this is one of the few evenings that Le Chef does not have to work. A brunch event would work beautifully too.
Ask Alexa (or google) to play songs by Brigitte Bardot. You can’t go wrong with Brigitte. Le Chef and I also listen to a lot of Yves Montand – GREAT dinner party music! Charles Aznavour and Edith Piaf also work beautifully but can be a little overpowering as background music. Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg provide a great soundtrack to your event, especially if you don’t mind a little “ooh la la!”
The Bastille Day parties that I most enjoy are served “Apéro” style. Lay out all the food on big platters on the table and let your guests pick at what they like as they mix and mingle.
I like to make skewers with cherry tomatoes, bocconcini and basil leaves. Take a toothpick, stick each one on et voilà!
Salade Niçoise : La classique! The true Niçoise is simply mixed greens with tomatoes, hard boiled eggs and olives, topped with tuna or anchovies. The culinary guild of Nice adds radishes, purple artichokes, basil, green onions, bell peppers and garlic in their traditional version.
But if you care to add cooked potatoes or green beans, that is your prerogative – you are the host!
Merguez sausages – these spicy lamb sausages from North Africa are a must during the summer. Served in a crusty baguette with Dijon mustard they are simple and packed with flavor. If you are not able to find Merguez, look for spicy Italian sausage but do yourself a favor and avoid the soft brioche hot dog bun…all the fun comes from tearing into that crunchy baguette! This is likely the one and only French food I have NEVER seen eaten with a knife and a fork in France!
Simple to make and delicious cold or hot, La quiche is picnic staple in France. I prefer mine with cheese and ham ( Quiche Lorraine) but goat cheese and grilled vegetables or salmon and spinach is also “delicieux”!
July is a great season for fresh fruit. Pick up nectarines or peaches- slice them and then toss them with a squirt of lemon juice and fresh mint and you have a refreshing dessert! Sliced watermelon or cantaloupe also works perfectly.
Is there ever not a cheese platter at a French event? A runny camembert or a slice of goat cheese drizzled with honey is always welcome.
Rosé! Pick up your favorite Rosé and serve it chilled. When possible opt for French Rosé. Le Chef and I particularly love any Rosé from Bandol. Chateau Mirval and Whispering Angel are also delicious and easily available in the US. Bring an ice bucket too keep it cool – warmed up Rosé is like drinking warm champagne – “dommage”.
Pastis. Le Chef loves Ricard, 1 part Ricard, 3 parts water, served over ice cubes. Add a little Orgeat syrup and you have yourself a “Mauresque”!
Last but not least, stop by a local patisserie and pick up a box of macarons or some French pastries. A raspberry tart is a beautiful way to end a delectable Bastille day celebration! If you are fortunate to live near a Ladurée like we do in Washington, DC, they always make the most amazing pastries for Bastille Day!
Thank you for reading ” How to host a Bastille Day Celebration”, I would love to hear from you how you spent your Bastille Day!
Le Chef’s Wife