Joyeux Quatorze Juillet!
With Bastille Day, le 14 juillet en français, coming up on July 14, and with my affected Frenchness still floating around after going to Paris in April, I decided to explore my hometown of Halifax to see if I could import the holiday across the Atlantic. Turns out, it was no problem at all.
Halifax’s French food situation is experiencing a renaissance in the best possible ways. My new favourite place is Charcuterie Ratinaud French Cuisine. Located at the entry to Halifax’s North End, Frederic Tandy offers cured meats, sausages made on site, and classic French pâtés, rillettes, and confit. Ratinaud also offers a wonderful selection of unique cheeses not available elsewhere in the city.
Woman cannot live by meat and cheese alone, though this one keeps trying. I’ll also need some nice, fresh baguette from Boulangerie la Vendéenne or Julien’s French Bakery, both offering a great range of French breads.
Finally, it’s not a proper French meal without something sweet at the end. I’m keeping it simple by having my favourite French treat, a selection of macarons from Gourmandises Avenue.
Update 2014: Halifax is now blessed with several French patisserie options, including Le French Fix, a local favourite of mine offering delicious, authentic French pastries and macarons so delicious, you’d swear you just departed Ladurée or Gerard Mulot.
If going out for a meal is a part of your plans for Le Quatorze Juillet, some Halifax restaurants are offering special menus for the evening. Le Bistro by Liz is offering two course special French dinner including wine for $29.95, Bistro Le Coq will have live entertainment, and Chez Tess is the choice for great crepes on one of the best patios in the city.
You can’t celebrate anything French without champagne. Bishop’s Cellar came to the rescue with their wide selection of champagnes, as well as cava, prosecco and Nova Scotia sparkling wines. Several Nova Scotia wineries make sparkling in the French méthode traditionnelle style, including a new Crémant from Blomidon Estate Winery and the award-winning 2007 Prestige Brut from L’Acadie Vineyards.
The Paris Plages, the man-made beaches along the Seine, will open soon. Hanging out at the beach on a holiday seems like an appropriate thing to do, and it is remarkably easy to replicate in Halifax. We don’t have beaches along the river (for we lack a river), but we do have a beach right on the harbourfront at the Sands at Salter. Bonus: the Halifax Waterfront has free wifi in case you want to share pics your beachy fun with jealous friends.
If you’re in the mood to play, my friends over at Sugah! have a loaner bocce set which can be borrowed for a fun afternoon in the sun. It’s not quite pétanque, but it’ll do in a pinch. If bocce isn’t your scene, Sugah! also has beach blankets and frisbee for an afternoon of beach fun.
If you really need a fix for your pétanque jones, enjoy these French gentlemen I watched playing the game back in the Spring.
I understand La brigade de sapeurs-pompiers de Paris, the firefighters, hold dances and balls all around the city to celebrate the holiday. I can’t find a firefighter ball in Halifax to save myself, but I may glide by the fire station in my neighbourhood in fancy party dress anyway.
Maybe that sign could read “Fire dancers in motion?” Since the Paris firefighters are also part of the Army, they probably have greater resources for a big 14 juilliet blowout, but I hope the firefighters of Halifax take this as a hint that we should have firefighters’ balls in Halifax. We could have them on Natal Day and they would be at least this fun:
You can’t have a national holiday without a big finish, right? I came up short on finding a local fireworks display that could be co-opted for mon 14 Juillet celebration, but, luckily for me, the Mairie de Paris is broadcasting their feu d’artifice at the Trocadéro, by the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, live over the internet at 22h30 their time (17h30 Halifax time). This year, the fireworks are dedicated to disco, they are even hanging a giant mirroball on the Eiffel Tower. The city has released the playlist and it is amazing. Merci, Paris!
To join in the fun, head over to 14juillet.paris.fr, pour a glass of champagne, and toast another great year for being French!
Bonne fête! Go to the comments and tell us how you will celebrate Bastille Day, le Quatorze Juillet!
Celebrate Bastille Day in Halifax:
Charcuterie Ratinaud 2082 Gottingen Street
Boulangerie la Vendéenne and Gourmandises Avenue, Halifax Seaport Market 1209 Marginal Road
Julien’s French Bakery 5517 Young Street
Bishop’s Cellar Bishop’s Landing 1477 Lower Water Street
Le French Fix 5233 Prince St
Sugah! Bishop’s Landing 1497 Lower Water Street
The Sands at Salter, Bishop’s Landing 1497 Lower Water Street
Le Bistro by Liz 1333 South Park Street
Bistro Le Coq 1584 Argyle Street
Chez Tess 5687 Charles Street