Vive La France! It's Time to Don That Beret and Pour a Bordeaux

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Vive La France! It's Time to Don That Beret and Pour a Bordeaux

Unless you own a personal jet, or have a good friend who does, it is too late to fly to Paris in time to celebrate this year's Bastille Day. But just because you are not in the City of Lights does not mean you can't whoop it up.

The French Embassy in Korea is hosting a private reception on Saturday. The embassy expects approximately 1,000 people to attend, including about half of the 1,500 who make up the French community.

On this day in 1789, an angry mob stormed the Bastille fortress, a powerful symbol of despotism and tyranny. It was the death knell for the monarchy and the beginning of the French Revolution.

The Bastille was actually a fort called the chastel Saint-Antoine. The fortress was notorious for its political prisoners, including many famous writers such as Voltaire and the Marquis de Sade. The remains of the fort are now at the Square Galli, a park in Paris.

For those who did not get an invitation to the reception, do not sulk. Here are several suggestions for alternative ways to celebrate Bastille Day in Korea.

1. Buy a French baguette at the ubiquitous Paris Baguette. They're freshly baked by 9 a.m. and cost around 1,400 won ($1).

2. If 9 a.m. is too early for you, go to the French Institute between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. (see left story). The culture center is not serving as a host site for any special events for the holiday, but you can rent several videos about Bastille Day. A librarian there recommends the documentaries "Opera Goude," "Histoire de la Revolution et la Revolution de l'Histoire" and "La Revolution Francaise." "La Nuit de Varennes" and "1789" are two of the top historical movies. All are available for rental.

3. Wear blue, white and red, the colors of the national flag. Top off your ensemble with a beret.

4. Read William Blake's poem "The French Revolution." Books with Blake's poetry are available at the Kyobo book store in Gwanghwamun north of the river, and Bandi and Lunis in the COEX Mall south of the river.

5. Memorize France's national anthem. La Marseillaise begins "Allons enfants de la Patrie/ le jour de gloire est arrive!/ Contre nous de la tyrannie/ l'etendard sanglant est leve." In English, "Ye sons of France/ awake to glory!/ Hark! Hark! The people bid you rise!" To listen to La Marseillaise, download an audio file from the Web site

6. Put on your party clothes and go to Le Saint Ex, a cozy French wine bistro in Itaewon. There will be plenty of hors d'oeuvres, wine, music and dancing at the "guinguette ball." The party starts at 7 p.m., but expect numbers to swell as the French Embassy's reception winds down.

by Joe Yong-hee

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