French Cheese Regions

Even though there are around 650,000 dairy farms in France, each one still remains loyal to the local culture and regional characteristics in which they are located. The unique characteristics of each French region are clearly translated into every dairy product one will find, especially cheese. Much like wine, French cheese is considered to have a terroir, or special characteristics that derive from the local environment and overall region in which it is produced. From the incredibly detail-oriented and dedicated cheesemakers, to the long, rich history of each cheese, the distinct and diverse regions of France are where each cheese receives its truly exceptional and one-of-a-kind character.

In this post, we will be discussing each unique French region, as well as highlighting a specific cheese from each one.

 

Alsace

Located in the north-eastern region of France, Alsace is one of the most celebrated regions when it comes to French cuisine. While many people recognize Alsace for its superior wine and beer, the cheese produced in this luscious region is also incredible. When it comes to cheese, Alsace is well-known for the world-renowned Muenster cheese. Made from the famous Vosges cow breed, the Muenster cheese is a soft cheese that is AOC certified. Made from raw milk, the Muenster cheese is creamy and smooth, with a strong smell and an incredible savory taste. The red rind of the Muenster cheese adds a lot to the delicious aroma. Along with the aromatic rind, the flavor of the Muenster cheese pairs perfectly with a strong, full-bodied red wine.

 

Aquitaine

In the south-west corner of France, one will find the extremely fertile landscape that is perfect for dairy farming and cheese making. Aquitaine is mostly known for the Ossau-Iraty cheese, which is one of the only two sheep milk cheeses that has an AOC certification. As a traditional French cheese, the Ossau-Iraty cheese has a beautiful yellow-orange crust and a white, creamy center that makes this cheese amazing for pairing with any meal or wine.

 

Auvergne

Other than the beautiful mountains of Auvergne, the staple of this region is the wonderful bleu cheese—Bleu d’Auvergne. Originating from the 1850s, Bleu d’Auvergne was discovered by the famous cheesemaker Antoine Roussel, who realized that the blue color in his cheese had a good taste. The blue color derives from different varieties of the Penicillium mold, giving the cheese a unique texture and flavor. As a blue cheese, Bleu d’Auvergne is a great cheese to use for salad dressings and even simple snacking, as well as pairing with heavy beers and sweet wines.

 

Bourgogne

A central region that has incredibly vast vineyards, Bourgogne is mostly known for the Délice de Bourgogne cheese, which is a soft-ripened triple-creamed cheese that is special because it is made by adding cream to cheese making process. Due to this process, the Délice de Bourgogne cheese is creamy and smooth, with an extremely bloomy and pungent rind because of the Penicillium Candidum mold.

 

Brittany

With a vast coastline spanning the northwest region of France, Brittany is mostly well-known for having an extensive selection of fresh seafood; however, the incredibly fertile soil and temperament climate also makes Brittany an ideal region for agriculture, especially dairy farming. In fact, Brittany is France’s leading region for livestock breeding and care, with nearly 16,000 dairy farms, many of which specialize in a certain breed of dairy cow, Brittany produces a fifth of France’s overall milk production

Based on this, Brittany is primarily known for delicious cow’s milk cheeses. Two of the best cow’s milk cheeses to be found in Brittany are Emmental and Saint-Paulin. Emmental cheese, while actually originating in Switzerland, is produced in large quantities across Brittany. A medium-hard yellow cheese with mild savory taste, the Emmental cheese is a great cheese to be used for a variety of dishes, whether grated as a topping or cooked down to a fondue. On the other hand, Saint-Paulin is a creamy soft cheese, with a gorgeous orange rind and a sweet, buttery taste that pairs perfectly with fruit or a light wine.

 

Centre

As the name suggests, this region is located in the center of France, right in the middle of the Loire Valley. When it comes to cheese in the Centre region, you will find amazing goat’s milk cheeses, including Sainte-Maure-de-Taurine and Selles-sur-Cher. Sainte-Maure-de-Taurine is an AOC certified cheese, which is a cylindrical, soft white cheese with a gray and ashy outer rind. Along with this, the Sainte-Maure-de-Taurine has a great earthy aroma and a nutty flavor. In a like manner, the Selles-sur-Cher cheese also has a soft white center with an ashy, gray outer rind. Due to the texture of the Selles-sur-Cher cheese, each bite will basically melt in your mouth, while the flavor is that of a tangy hazelnut.

 

Champagne-Ardenne

While the Champagne-Ardenne region is mainly known for its world-renowned sparkling wine, which actually led to this region being classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the exceptional terroir also produces amazing cheeses. Among the cheeses of Champagne-Ardenne, two of the most well known ones are Langres and Soumaintrain. Made from cow’s milk, the Langres cheese has a beautiful yellow-orange color and unique rind that makes this cheese extremely recognizable. In comparison, the Soumaintrain cheese has a wonderful creamy texture that gets better as it ages.

 

Corse

Known as the “island of beauty,” the cuisine one finds in Corse truly has personality and character. A prized cheese of the Corse region is Brocciu, which derives its special texture and flavor from whey instead of milk. The unique process involves taking the leftover whey from the production of goat’s milk cheese, which is then heated to a high enough degree so that a creamy foam forms on the surface. Then, this foam is put into a mold where it forms into a white, creamy cheese that takes on the flavor of the goat cheese that is derives from.

 

Franche-Comté

Located on the Easter edge of France, sharing a border with Switzerland, the Franche-Comté region is made up of beautiful fields, luscious forests, and majestic mountains. With an environment as amazing as this, the cheese produced in this region is also of superior quality. Included among the superior cheeses of Franche-Comté is the Bleu de Gex and the famous Comté cheese. A certified AOC cheese, the Bleu de Gex has to follow strict guidelines during its production process, such as only coming from the milk of the Montbéliard cow. With a creamy, semi-soft texture, the Bleu de Gex is easily recognizable because its rind will be stamped with the word Gex. In contrast, the Comté cheese has a pale yellow color internally, while the rind is typically brown. While its flavor tends to be well-balanced, the aroma of the Comté can vary greatly, including interesting notes of fruit, wood, and butter.

 

Île-de-France

As the region where Paris is located, the culture and cuisine of the Île-de-France region is full of life and excitement. With a rich history, the cheese found in this region shares in the unique characteristics, producing popular cheeses such as Brie and Boursault. As a cheese enjoyed all across France and around the world, the production of Brie is kept under strict guidelines to satisfy its AOC certification, as well as guarantee the quality of the creamy texture and sweet flavor that Brie is so famous for. Even though it might not be as famous as Brie, Boursault cheese has its own unique terroir. As a cheese that is enriched with cream during the production process, the texture is truly magnificent, while its flavor is buttery and citrusy.

 

Languedoc-Roussillon

In the south of France, the Languedoc-Roussillon region is mostly known for its viticulture, however, the cheese found here is not to be overlooked. Among these cheeses, two of the best are Brousse and Pelardon. Like the Brocciu cheese, Brousse is predominantly made using whey instead of milk, which is aggressively mixed to give it a moist and grainy texture. Made from goat’s milk, the Pelardon cheese has a very recognizable flavor, typically tangy and nutty, the flavor and aroma become much stronger and potent as the cheese ages.

 

Limousin

With a beautiful countryside that is ripe for dairy farming, the Limousin region in the south-central area of France focuses mostly on goat’s milk cheese. One of the best cheeses found in this region is the Goutte du Limousin, which is a soft cheese that has herbal flavors and is perfect for spreading on crackers or bread.

 

Lorraine

As the neighboring region to Alsace, Lorraine shares in the beautiful hillsides and plateaus that are fertile and made for agriculture. Along with this, since Lorraine shares its border with Alsace, the cheeses found here are shared between the two regions, including the famous Muenster cheese. However, Lorraine also has unique cheeses of its own, such as the Carré de l’Est cheese, which is a thick soft cheese that has an incredibly smooth, creamy texture and a very subtle taste that makes it perfect to start your cheese exploration with.

 

Midi-Pyrénées

A region with gorgeous landscapes and towns with deep personalities, Midi-Pyrénées is known for its refined cuisine and commitment to quality. While there are a many different cheeses to be found in this region, some of the best include Bleu des Causses and Laguiole. A classic blue cheese, Bleu des Causses is oftentimes compared to Roquefort. With a pungent aroma that can smell like mushrooms, the Bleu des Causses has blue-gray mold that grows in its crevices, giving this cheese a strong essence of traditional blue cheese. In contrast, Laguiole is a hard cheese originating in monasteries in the Aubrac mountains, which has a firm texture that crumbles and a buttery flavor.

 

Nord-Pas-de-Calais

On the northern tip of France, Nord-Pas-de-Calais is like every other French region, in that the land and soil is fertile and perfect for agriculture. Due to this, Nord-Pas-de-Calais has become of the top five dairy producers across France. In this light, the cheese found here is incredibly diverse, including unique varieties such as Gouda, Mimolette, and Boulette d’Avesnes. A classic cheese, the Gouda found in France is typically wrapped with wax and mainly used as an ingredient for cheese-based dishes. With a coarse, brown rind, and a beautiful deep orange color, Mimolette is usually a harder type cheese that has a salty flavor. Boulette d’Avesnes also has a vibrant color, specifically a red color that is created using annatto or paprika. Along with this, the Boulette d’Avesnes cheese is made with a mix of herbs that includes tarragon and parsley, which provides most of its flavor.

 

Normandy

With one of longest histories of dairy farming and cheese making, dating back to the 10th century, Normandy leads France in cheese production. While Normandy is typically known for very large cheeses, it is also home to one of the world’s most widely enjoyed cheeses—Camembert. Camembert is oftentimes compared to Brie because of a similar creamy texture, however, Camembert aroma tends to be more pungent, while its flavor will usually be stronger, slightly more sour, and chalky. These characteristics of course change drastically depending on the age of Camembert, with a young Camembert having a much weaker aroma and flavor, and becoming extremely more prevalent as the cheese ages.

 

Pays de la Loire

As another region that produces a large majority of France’s dairy, one will find both goat’s milk and cow’s milk cheeses in Pays de la Loire, as well as some of the best soft cheeses. An incredibly popular cheese found in this region is the Babybel cheese, which has a red wax wrapping that is recognizable anywhere in the world. Typically found in small individual portions, the Babybel cheese has a sweet and mild taste that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

 

Picardy

Made up of fertile farmlands, Picardy is a region that cherishes its rich history of agriculture, especially cheese production. A cheese with as long of a history as Picardy itself, the Maroilles cheese is known to have been enjoyed by a long list of French royalty. An orange cheese, with a washed rind, the Maroilles cheese has a sweet and citrusy flavor, as well as an extremely strong and pungent aroma. Related to the Maroilles cheese, the Vieux Lille also has an aroma that will fill a room. Along with this, the Vieux Lille cheese typically has a strong salty taste.

 

Poitou-Charentes

On the western side of France, the cheese found in the Poitou-Charentes region includes Chabichou du Poitou and Sainte-Maure. With a wrinkly rind and creamy texture, the Chabichou du Poitou is the most famous goat cheese originating in France. The Chabichou du Poitou cheese derives most of its flavor directly from the goat’s milk, giving it a nutty flavor that can not be forgotten. Much like the Chabichou du Poitou, the Sainte-Maure is also an extremely popular goat cheese, as the most widely-consumed goat’s milk cheese across France. With a fresh flavor, the Sainte-Maure has a distinct flavor that grows more prevalent as it ages.

 

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Like all cheeses across France, the cheese found in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur gains all of its character from the regional qualities in which it is produced. While all of the cheeses produced in this region are delicious and full of flavor, one of the most unique cheeses found in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is the Banon cheese. Using the sweet curd technique, the Banon cheese typically is a sweet flavored cheese with an earthy aroma. One of the reasons this cheese is so unique is because it is typically wrapped in chestnut leaves while it ages, which helps give the cheese its distinct nutty aroma and flavor.

 

Rhône-Alpes

A beautiful mountainous region, the Rhône-Alpes has one the longest histories of cheesemaking across France. A cow’s milk cheese with a dry, orange rind, the Fourme de Montbrison cheese has a creamy paste internally that delivers a salty wood flavor. Another cheese of this region, which is known to be a perfect cheese for melting into dishes, is the Raclette cheese.

 

Kings of Pastry Movie Review

Every four years in France, a unique competition known as Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF) is held for craftsmen in a long list of different specialty trades and skills. Filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus worked together to produce an entertaining and informative documentary style film that highlights the importance and extremely high-stakes of this competition for French pastry chefs. The “Kings of Pastry” delivers the drama and emotions that exists among these highly-skilled pastry chefs directly to the viewer, leaving you on the edge of your seat as they create extravagant pastry masterpieces and sometimes watch them crumble before their eyes.

Centered around the co-founder of the French Pastry School in Chicago, Jacquy Pfeiffer, as he prepares for the 2007 MOF competition, “Kings of Pastry” follows Pfeiffer back to his childhood home in Alsace, France where he begins training and refining his pastry skills prior to the competition. Gaining valuable knowledge from a previous MOF winner and Pfeiffer’s fellow co-founder of the Chicago school, Sébastien Canonne, Pfeiffer heads back to France in order to train using French ingredients since some French ingredients are slightly different than their American counterparts, and these subtle differences can cause huge changes when it comes to the chemistry of baking and pastry-making.

Perfectly transitioning from a spotlight on Pfeiffer’s preparation, the film moves into the competition period, which spans three days and is centered around a theme. Since the theme of the specific year they chose to film was marriage, the pastry chefs were tasked with making a whole wedding buffet, which includes a wedding cake, chocolate sculpture, sugar sculpture, cream puffs, chocolate candies, breakfast pastries with jam, tea pastries, dessert plate, and a small creative sculpture. While each of these tasks involves an incredibly high degree of skill and knowledge, competitors must not only pay close attention to perfecting the visual aspects of their creations, but they are also judged on taste as well. Along with this, the judges, who are world-renowned pastry chefs Jacques Torres, Pascal Niau, and Pierre Herme, closely watch the whole process from the beginning, critiquing and meticulously watching all of the sixteen finalists, taking into account cleanliness and efficiency as they decide who will earn the title of Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (One of the Best Craftsmen of France). Even though it is a competition, it’s easier to think of it like a test, since more than one pastry chef can earn the title, and it is based on a score from the judges that includes every aspect of the baking and assembly process. While you will truly empathize with some of the pastry chefs who fail, as some of the sculptures crumble before their eyes, the film delivers on the extreme joy that is felt when some succeed.

If you are a fan of cooking shows, you will find immense excitement and joy from watching the “Kings of Pastry.” Much of this is due to Pennebaker and Hegedus’ incredible ability to truly capture the intensity and importance of the competition, as well as the deep emotions of the pastry chefs. Some pastry chefs work their entire lives for the honor to be known as Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, and the film brings viewers into their lives, experiencing the stress and anxiety of such an intense competition, as well as the ultimate joy and pride of the ones who successfully achieve such an honor. It is truly a remarkable and gripping film, one that is perfect for anyone who enjoys the world of French cuisine and cooking competitions, while at the same time standing apart from other cooking shows and competitions, since the “Kings of Pastry” is a much more unique, informative, and interesting film to enjoy.

Oyster 101

Oyster 101

With 150,000 tonnes of oysters produced annually, and with nearly 90% of such production being consumed within France alone, oysters remain a strong staple of French cuisine. Dating back centuries, oysters have been one of the most commonly consumed delicacies in France. Today, oysters in France are sourced from a variety of regions, producing a diverse array of of flavors and textures. While they are enjoyed all year long, they are especially common around the holiday season, with around half of the annual production being consumed during this time of the year.

In French, oysters are called huitres. Along with this, just as “terroir” is used to refer to the specific characteristics a wine has in relation to the region it is produced, the distinct flavor and texture of an oyster is sometimes referred to as “merroir,” and is decided by the special traits of the water and environment in which it is raised, such as water temperature, salinity, algae, mineral composition.

Since oysters are such an essential aspect of French cuisine,   let’s explore some tips surrounding oysters, as well as share aspects about their unique existence in France.

 

Oyster Etiquette

First, we should quickly review the “proper” way to consume oysters, since it has been a point of confusion for many people unfamiliar with the dining experience. Even though there is not truly a “right” way to eat anything, here are a few tips that oyster connoisseurs consider to be the best way to consume oysters.

  • Always begin any food experience with senses such as sight and smell. The size and shape of oysters can quickly hint at the meatiness and texture of the oyster, while an oysters smell is essential to experiencing the complete flavor profile. Along with this, the smell can quickly tell you if an oyster is bad or not.
  • Using a small fork, loosen the oyster from its shell, and slurp it down from the wider end of the shell. In this way, the liquid the oyster sits in will also be consumed, which adds a lot to the flavor.
  • Chew it a few times before swallowing in order to release all the flavors and enjoy the unique texture.
  • While oysters can definitely be enjoyed as they are, lemon juice, cocktail sauce, and mignonette sauce are all very common garnishes.

 

Shucking

Since oysters can oftentimes be an expensive meal to enjoy at a restaurant, a cheaper way to still be able to enjoy these delicacies is buying them directly from a reputable seafood vendor   and shucking them yourself. However, shucking oysters can be a difficult skill to  master without any prior knowledge, so here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Make sure to get the proper equipment, specifically an oyster knife. Along with this, you will want to make sure to use a towel or shucking glove to protect your hand, as well as a flat surface.
  • Placing the knife at the hinge of the shell, use a twisting motion to pry the shell open.
  • Slide the knife across the top shell to release the oyster, and then remove the top of the shell.
  • You will want to make sure to remove any grit or shell residue that lands on the oyster, and then you’ll be ready to enjoy it!

 

Other Important Tips:

  • Since many of the names can be unfamiliar, you can always describe the types of flavors and textures that you like, and your server will usually be able to help find a kind you will enjoy.
  • It’s always a good idea to try a few different types of oysters at a time, in order to better experience the subtle differences in flavors and textures. Along with this, having two of each variety is also important in noticing these nuances.
  • Common beverage pairings include white wines, hoppy beers, and sake.
  • While many people tend to enjoy oysters without any garnish, small additions of acidity from lemons and vinegar-based sauces can add new dimensions of flavor to an oyster, just be careful not to use a sauce or seasoning that will overpower the oyster’s natural flavor.

 

Oysters in France

The two main species of oysters enjoyed in France are the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas), or “Creuse,” and the European oyster (Ostrea edulis), also known as “Plate” and flat oysters. While the majority of oysters produced in France today are Creuse oysters, Plate oysters are still highly sought after for their unique flavor, but are much more expensive.

While oysters are consumed all across France, there are seven distinct regions that produce them, including Normandy, North-Brittany, South-Brittany, West-Central, Marennes-Oléron, Arcachon, and the Mediterranean.

Among the many things that French cuisine is known for, their production and consumption of oysters is a popular tradition dating back centuries. Thus, while all these tips can be applied to eating oysters anywhere, if you are a true seafood lover, France’s oyster market is the perfect place to begin your exploration and experience of these delicious delicacies.

French Regional Wine

French Regional Wine

Among the many traditions and unique characteristics of French cuisine, one aspect that is world-renowned is their viticulture, or wine making. Wine in France has a long history stemming back over two thousand years ago. It is believed that the Romans introduced viticulture and wine to the regions that now make up modern-day France, with evidence dating back to the 6th century BC.

Today, French viticulture is especially unique to the region in which it is situated, a concept known as “terroir.” An important factor that distinguishes regional wine specialties are the types of grapes used, as France is known to grow a wide variety of grapes. Producing wines that are sold all over the world, French wine is guided by official standards set by the Appellation d’Origine Protégée certification system. Historically, France has always been known for the high quality of their wines and their innovative cultivation techniques, both of which have spread across the whole world.

In this post, we will discuss some of the more well-known regions of France, and the type of wines that are unique to each area.

 

Alsace

Located in eastern France, along the border of Germany, this region of France is known for white-wines made from Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. This region is also known for growing Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir and producing Cremant de Alsace, a local sparkling wine.

 

Beaujolais

Located in the east of France, along the Saone river, the region of Beaujolais has multiple “appellations,” which are geographical regions that are legally defined and protected for the type of grapes they grow. Included in the appellations of Beaujolais are: Beaujolais AOC and Beaujolais-Villages AOC,  and the Crus of Beaujolias Brouilly, Regnié, Chiroubles, Cote de Brouilly, Fleurie, Saint-Amour, Chénas, Juliénas, Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent. Overall, Beaujolais is known for its production of red wine, and its predominant use of of the Gamay grape.

 

Bordeaux

 On the Western side of France, the region of Bordeaux is situated along the coastline of the Atlantic ocean, which has historically allowed their wines easier access to the international markets. While Bordeaux is popular for its variety of blended red wines, they also produce a famous sweet white wine known as Sauternes, such as the famed wines of Château d’Yquem. A few other well-known wines from this region include Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Cheval Blanc, and Château Pétrus.

 

Burgundy

The Burgundy region, situated on a narrow strip of land in the east of France, is divided into the most appellations out of any French region. With both red and white wines produced in Burgundy, the main grapes used are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The whole region is divided into four main sub-regions: The Cote de Nuits (from Marsannay-La-Cote down to Nuits-Saint-Georges), The Cote de Beaune (from north of Beaune to Santenay), The Cote Chalonnaise, and The Maconnais. Along with this, in the city of Beaune, a yearly wine sale is held every autumn in France’s historic “Hospices” building. Even though the vineyards in Burgundy produce both red and white wines, they are primarily known for their red wines, especially due to their longevity.

 

Champagne

Just as the name suggests, this region of France is known for its production of sparkling wine. However, unlike many places around the world, the term “Champagne” is not used in France as a general term for sparkling wines, but rather the specific sparkling wine from the Champagne region. Champagne gains its unique, delicious flavor from the natural growing conditions that exist in the region, such as the chalky soil. Amongst the Champagne vineyards, the best rated names include Krug, Mumm, and Bollinger.

 

Loire

Located in western France, the Loire region, commonly called the garden of France, is home to many styles of wine, including white, red, rosé and sparkling, as well as a unique “grey wine,” which is actually just a white wine made from black grapes. Along with this, Loire is often seen as four sub-regions, specifically Upper Loire, Touraine, Anjou-Saumur, and Pays Nantais. A few varieties these regions are known produce are: Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre), Chenin blanc (Savennières and Vouvray), Melon Blanc (Muscadet), Cabernet Franc (Chinon). Loire also produces many sparkling wines, more than any other region except Champagne.

 

Ultimately, while these regions do not make up all of French wine culture, they are several of the most well-known regions, as they all produce a high-quality wines unique to their given area. If you wish to learn more about France’s regional specialties, there are many more regions not included in this post for you to explore. Enjoy!

Bastille Day

Bastille Day – Origins

In 1789, as unrest grew in France, and the Estates-General was called to assemble, the people of France stormed the Bastille in Paris, revolting against the absolute power of the monarchy, and sparking the beginning of the French Revolution. While the Bastille was a valuable position to control, as well as being supplied with weapons and ammunition, it also was used as a prison by the monarchy for many politically motivated imprisonments, and thus symbolized the despotic power of the royal monarchy. In this way, the Storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789 stands as a symbol of France’s fight for freedom, and is celebrated every year as a way to recognize this very fact.

 

The Origins of the Bastille

During the Hundred Years War between the French and English, the Bastille was built to serve as a fortress on the eastern side of Paris. With eight towers and 100-foot high walls, the design of the Bastille proved extremely effective as a strategic position for the defense of Paris. In the centuries that followed, the Bastille also served as a prison, mostly known to be used by the monarchy to imprison political opponents and enemies.

 

Events Leading Up to the Storming of the Bastille

Even though there are many events and causes that led to July 14th and the French Revolution, the main forces driving these events include rising social and economic instability, political corruption and abuse of power by the monarchy, and the emergence of Enlightenment ideas.

While most of the French population suffered from food shortages due to economic mismanagement, King Louis XVI continually raised taxes and spent extravagantly. As the crisis grew worse, a meeting of the national assembly was called, known as the Estates-General. This meeting, made up by the First Estate (clergy), the Second Estate (nobility), and the Third Estate (commoners), was an attempt to relieve the tensions and instability.

Due to the extreme power inequality between the Estates, specifically the lack of power for the Third Estate, the Third Estate broke off, made the Tennis Court Oath, and formed the National Assembly with the intent of writing a new constitution. As the support for the National Assembly grew throughout France, protests against the monarchy continued to rise as well.

At this point in France, the degree of suffering the commoners were victim to, at the hands of the upper classes and royalty, had grown to such an extreme degree, revolt was bound to happen. However, it was the unity amongst the commoners, and the sympathetic nobility driven by the desire for “liberty, equality, and fraternity,” that turned the revolt into a true revolution. The day this revolutionary potential was realized was July 14th, 1789.

 

July 14th, 1789 – The Storming of the Bastille

On the day of July 14th, 1789, an angry mob was gathering outside the Bastille, while revolutionaries were invited in to negotiate an end to the unrest. However, as the mob grew angrier, soldiers began firing on the crowd. Control of the Bastille was quickly taken by the revolutionaries, supplies seized, and dismantling had begun. This victory for the revolutionaries proved that had a real chance at liberating France from the monarchy’s control.

One year later, July 14th would be the day of the Fête de la Fédération, (Festival of the Federation) when French citizens celebrated the French Revolution and promoted national unity.

 

Remembering Bastille Day Today

In 1880, July 14th became officially recognized as a national holiday, known as both Bastille Day and la Fête nationale (The National Celebration). Today, France continues to hold one of the oldest and largest military pardes along the Champs-Elysées in Paris. Along with this, all across France, celebrations are held with fireworks and parties, recognizing the importance of the events of 1789 and 1790 with chants of “liberty, equality, and fraternity.”