French celebrate their big day

01:37, Jul 15 2014
Julie Benard
NATIONAL DAY PRIDE: Julie Benard, left, with Caroline Mackinder, miss celebrating Bastille Day in their home country, France.

Extravagant firework displays and street festivities is how Caroline Mackinder celebrates Bastille Day in her home country.

But it was a much quieter sort of celebration for the Frenchwoman in New Plymouth yesterday.

Mackinder, who works at New Plymouth's Petit Paris, said Bastille Day was celebrated in France with "big, big fireworks" and she was "very sad" there were no grand displays in New Plymouth.

"It's a holiday in France, nobody's working and there's big fireworks everywhere," Mackinder said. "I want to go to a party and celebrate but there's no party here."

Bastille Day marks the start of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789.

Friend Julie Benard said she would like to buy fireworks to commemorate France's national day but unfortunately, there was none for sale. "For us, it's also the start of summer. It's the end of the school year and people are getting their examination results. It's vacation time."


Mackinder hailed from Rouen, in north-western France, and moved to New Plymouth two years ago with her Kiwi husband Gene.

Benard, from Toulon in southern France, said she had to explain to her boyfriend's family the reasons why she was keen for a Bastille Day celebration dinner.

Sport Taranaki health and recreation adviser Joelle Xavier said Bastille Day was to the French what Waitangi Day was to New Zealanders.

"It's a day off and people get up early to watch TV for the big military procession and there's also the display of armed forces."

There will be street balls with dancing and fireworks in the smaller French towns, Xavier said.

"But here it's the middle of winter, so I'm going to sit in front of the fire and watch a DVD."

Petit Paris held a five-course dinner for about 20 guests yesterday to celebrate "all things French".

Taranaki Daily News