Tue, Jul 14, 2009 - Page 4 News List

COMMUNITY COMPASS: Bastille Day celebrations draw hundreds in Taipei

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

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With hundreds of people swaying to live jazz and enjoying a delectable buffet, for a few hours on Saturday night, Huashan Cultural Park was Taipei’s own Little Paris.

The festivities to celebrate France’s national day, Bastille Day, drew more than 700 people.

Decked out in the national colors — red, white and blue — the venue offered a slice of home for French expatriates.

Festivities are organized each year for Bastille Day by the Association of France in Taiwan.

MISSING HOME

“Back home, the people would dance in the streets. There were lots of parties and definitely a lot of alcohol,” said Patrick Morain, a student studying Chinese in Taiwan.

Harmonique Sonnette, who arrived in Taiwan two weeks ago with her husband and eight-month old son, said the party reminded her of home, albeit without the fancy fireworks.

The night had something for everyone: a complete bar and French snacks, a magic show and acrobatic performance, and a lucky draw for a wide line-up of prizes donated by businesses.

ARMED WITH BREAD

A rowdy crowd of French nationals and Francophiles with flags painted on their faces — some with baguette in hand — danced to the music of the Wailin’ Souls.

One of the highlights of the party was a performance of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise. Upon recognizing the melody, many people stood still as they listened to the 18th century piece symbolic of the French Revolution.

Christian Tron, a retired Air France employee and the treasurer of the host organization, said Bastille Day commemorates the end of the French monarchy and the dismantling of the Bastille on July 14, 1789.

The Association of France in Taiwan is a non-profit organization set up by French expatriates in Taiwan in 1991 to provide a venue where French speakers can interact and exchange views.

The group holds regular activities, but its Bastille Day celebration is the biggest event of the year, Tron said.

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