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Celebrate Bastille Day in Greenwich

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Come sing “La Marseillaise” during a Bastille Day celebration Thursday, July 14, at Greenwich Town Hall. French-Americans and Francophiles will join other Greenwich residents for a flag-raising to the French national anthem.

Known as “quatorze julliet” in France, where it is a national holiday, Bastille Day commemorates the 1790 “Fete de la Federation,” originally celebrated on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille in Paris. “We call it Bastille Day in this country, but you’d never hear someone in France say Bastille Day,” said Renee Ketcham, president of Alliance Francaise of Greenwich , sponsor of Thurday’s celebration.

Greenwich has a special relationship with France that many residents may not know about. Greenwich resident Craig Roberts Stapleton, a former U.S. ambassador to France, fell in love with Vienne, which became Greenwich’s sister city. “It’s a beautiful Greco-Roman city and is home to probably one of the most important jazz festivals in the world,” said Ketcham.

The French flag will be raised on the steps of Greenwich Town Hall (101 Field Point Road) during a celebration that begins at 8 a.m. Thursday. M. Phillippe Lalliot, consul general of France in New York, and First Seletman Peter Tesei will officiate.

“[Lalliot] gives a wonderful talk about the relationship between France and the United States,” said Ketcham. “He’ll give a talk about why it’s important to continue to work on this relationship between the two countries, which is important to the mission of the Alliance Francaise. We’re here to really promote the French language and French culture to Americans so they can really learn to appreciate the culture.”

Special guests at the ceremony will be Monsieur Jean La Chaud, president of the American Society of Le Souvenir Francais, Inc., and Greenwich Ambassador-at Large Bea Crumbine.

“Someone showed up a few years ago with an accordion [and played at the flag raising],” Ketcham said. “He was French, and happened to be in town. I had never seen him before in my life, but it made it fun.”

A complimentary “petit-dejeuner” will be served at Meli Melo restaurant following the flag-raising ceremony. Residents are also invited to a $59 prix fix dinner at Jean Louis , owned by French-born chef Jean Louis Gerin.

The Alliance Francaise originally planned to hold an all-day event in honor of Bastille Day but was unable to get approval in time. So it plans to hold that festival next year.

For more information, call the Alliance Francaise office at (203) 249-3651.

Will you be celebrating Bastille Day in Greenwich this year? Tell us how in a comment below or email ahelhoski@thedailygreenwich.com .

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