Thursday, 20 August 2015

Bastille Festival in London

Bastille Day meringues in "red", white and blue

If London's many French residents were feeling a little homesick or dépaysés, they had only to head for Borough Market on Sunday 12th July. There they could celebrate Bastille Day a few days early.

France celebrates its Fête Nationale on 14th July. The date marks the storming of the Bastille prison during the French Revolution on 14th July 1789.

Borough Market on London's South Bank can trace its history back 1000 years. It is located in the London Bridge area - overlooked by both the old and the new. Southwark Cathedral stands alongside on a site dating back to 606 AD. By contrast, the towering glass Shard goes back to just 2009.

Today, the food market boasts a truly international range of produce. You could salivate over French cheeses, bread and pâtisserie, German sausages, Spanish ham and tapas, Italian cheeses and other specialities. The list of international foods is extensive. There was an impressive range of mushrooms - you would never find such a wide selection in a British supermarket.

Exotic range of mushrooms in Borough Market

There is even a shop with a 2CV!

French shop with mounted 2CV in the market

On 12th July, the market's stallholders put out French flags and dressed up to help the French celebrate their forthcoming national day. Maybe some of the stripey t-shirts and berets were somewhat clichéd, but their hearts were in the right place.

Accordion playing on Bastille Day

A huge glass roof provided protection from the London drizzle. A variety of entertainments took place there. The day was largely geared towards families and conducted in both French and English. I saw a very funny cabaret act followed by improvisation for French children. The audience sat on hay bales or stood on all sides.

Bastille Festival audience sitting on hay bales

On the big day itself, it was possible to watch the 14th July parade and fireworks on French TV via the Internet. No need to feel left out in London.

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