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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bastille Day in San Francisco (14 Juillet à SF)



Hundreds of francophiles and partyers will probably flock to Belden Lane tonight, to celebrate the 14th of July, or what people here call "Bastille Day." Many people believe that Belden Lane is the French Quarter of San Francisco. Ahem.

Des centaines de francophiles et de fêtards vont probablement converger aux alentours de Belden Lane ce soir, pour célèbrer le 14 Juillet (que l'on appelle ici "le Jour de la Bastille"). Nombreux sont ceux qui s'imaginent que Belden Lane est le Quartier Français de San Francisco. Ha!

If you don't know any better, I should probably warn you, it really isn't. At least not to most of the long term French expats residents here. There nothing French about it and nothing much to see, not even a little shop, I mean *nothing at all* except a handful of restaurants, most of them a little too pricy for what they are... And yes, at least two of them are "French."

Pour ceux qui ne sont pas au courant, je ferais peut-être mieux de vous avertir tout de suite que ce que les gens du coins appellent le "Quartier Français" n'est pas un quartier pour Français. En tout cas, pas pour la majorité des expats qui sont ici depuis longtemps. Il n'y a absolument rien à voir, même pas une petite boutique, je veux dire *vraiment* rien à voir, à part la poignée de restaurants qui y existent, presque tous un peu trop chers pour ce qu'ils sont... Au moins deux d'entre eux font de la cuisine française.

Some of them are probably worth trying once, especially if you've never had that kind of food, like Cafe Bastille (that one actually is pretty good and relatively reasonably priced) or Plouf just for the experience.

Remarquez que si vous n'avez jamais eu l'occasion d'y aller, faut quand-même essayer au moins une fois, pour l'experience. Vous avez par exemple le Cafe Bastille (qui est d'ailleurs pas mauvais et pas trop cher) et Plouf.



Years ago, people used to be able to dance on Belden Lane, on the evening of the 14th of July; there used to be music and they'd close off both ends of the alley so people could walk around with their drink (1) and have a little fun. But things have changed over the last few years (for "security reasons," they say), and last year they only allowed people in if they were going to be seated at one of the restaurants' patios, otherwise, you had to keep moving on out of there.

Il y a des années, le soir du 14 Juillet, les gens dansaient à Belden Lane. Il y mettaient de la musique, les deux bouts de la rue étaient bloqués pour que les gens puissent s'amuser et boire(1) leur verre de vin tranquillement dans la rue, devant les restaurants. Mais les choses ont bien changé au cours des dernières années ("pour des raisons de sécurité" on nous dit), et l'an dernier, si vous n'alliez pas directement vous asseoir à la terrasse de l'un de ces restaurants, on vous disait de circuler.

Needless to say, you can't just walk into any of these places on the 14th of July if you haven't made your reservations way ahead of time, so most likely if you're ready to head out there now, you're gonna be disappointed.

Bien sûr, pour s'asseoir le soir du 14 Juillet dans un de ces restaurants, il faut avoir réservé des mois à l'avance , alors si vous vous apprêtez à y aller maintenant, vous allez êtres déçus.

I know there are other places you can hang out at, tonight in the City if you want to celebrate Bastille Day, but I didn't research them for you guys, sorry, because truthfully, I am not in the least interested in that.

Je sais qu'il y a d'autres endroit où aller faire la fête ce soir en ville pour le 14 Juillet, mais j'ai pas fait la recherche parce que franchement, c'est pas un truc qui m'intéresse énormément.

All these people running around "Frenching it up" for just one day, and all the others who pretend to like a culture they don't even have a clue about, just bore me to tears. So I have no advice for the true francophile out there wanting to know what to do tonight.

(Je vous expliquerai bien pourquoi, mais ça prendrait beaucoup de temps. Alors, Pour le moment, je n'en dis pas plus, mille excuses.)

This year, I'll be going to a private party instead, and yes, there will be French people there, but we'll be celebrating it "the American way," you know, barbecue in the back yard with a bunch of friends, no frills, no pretense, no bullshit.

Cette année, j'irai chez des gens, et oui, il y aura même des Français, mais on va faire celebrer ça "à l'Americaine," vous savez, barbecue dans le jardin, sympa, avec quelques amis, en toute simplicité, sans grandes pompes ou pretention.

In fact, I kinda have to go now, so happy 14th, everybody, and don't do anything I wouldn't do! ;)

D'ailleurs, faudrait même que je me depêche, alors bonne fête à tous et à bientôt.



(1) In California, it is usually illegal to drink alcohol in the street (yes, even if it's only a beer and it's a really really hot day).

(1) En Californie, d'habitude c'est interdit par loi de boire de l'alcool dans la rue (oui, même si c'est juste une bierre sous une chaleur à crever).

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Caroline said...

Joyeux 14 juillet à toi aussi !

C'est le 1er ici pour nous et on a été à la fois invités par des français sur la place Belden Place et par des américains à un barcebue, mais finalement on va... à la soirée Booties du DNA Lounge entre français ;-)

8:25 PM  
Anonymous NJ said...

A quelques milliers de kilomètres de là, au fin fond du Gers, c'est avec des Texans que nous avons passés la soirée du 14.
BBQ au placard! Fois gras, magret, Montbazillac et country music ont rythmé notre soirée.
The perfect mix!

1:50 AM  
Blogger MadameK said...

Jeeeez. I ususally dig your blog, but that post was a real downer. I hope the party cheered you up!

So....what's your definition of a "true" Francophile? Just for kicks I'd like to see what your measuring stick looks like.

2:49 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

I would agree a tad with madamek here. This entry was rather critical of the whole "Fake French" thing that tends to go on in this country.

I, for one, choose not to necessarily associate with French expats who live in my vicinity (there are very few of them, anyway), because the mere commonality of being French does not really suffice to create a bond between two individuals. I do attend our local Alliance Francaise meetings, because I feel obligated to do so, but I still have mixed feelings about that.

I hope that you had fun at the party, and that, overall, your July 14 was a good one.

In a way, your post gave me an idea for an entry that I will try writing pretty soon.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anthony said...

I'm currently in San Francisco. I've never been to San Francisco during Bastille Day before, but other than a few balloons here and there, it didn't feel any different than any other day in the City. I just have to get used to the relatively cold temperatures. Well, maybe it's not that cold, but living in San Diego, I've definitely been spoiled... ;-) BTW: it’s my first post on your blog, but I’ve been a reader for quite a while now… Good blog!

10:31 AM  
Blogger luggi said...

Hoo, boy! You summed it up nicely, though. It's the toughest thing as well about learning French as a third language, I can tell you--the frills, pretence and bullshit that goes with it.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Caroline Bonjour, et bienvenue! Ton blog est sympa et bien présenté! :)

NJ T'as du Montbazillac et de la country music?!! J'arrive!!! :)

Madamek: I'm sorry I disappointed you, but if I can't vent a little bit on my own blog, what is the point? Tell you what, give it a couple of days and see if any the comments will help you understand the point I was trying to make. Otherwise, I will come back later and respond to your comment in more detail.

Elisabeth: I understand. It *was* meant to be critical. All that fakeneness and "French snobbism" makes me want to puke, always have, always will.

Anthony: It's a classic San Francisco summer. As soon as the fog rolls in, it cools everything down a good 20 degrees. Never trust the sun, in SF, and always carry a windbreaker in a backpack or something. Trust, me, you'll be sorry if you don't! ;)

Luggi: I'm sorry :-) By the way, "vous avez déjà essayé d'enlever de la bouse de vache de d'un sac Prada? C'est pas facile!" ;)

11:33 PM  
Blogger KBam said...

The public drinking ban here in the good ol' US of A was probably the biggest downer when I came back after months of living in Paris. Knowing the American penchant for all things taboo, it's no wonder we have a "drinking problem." (I say that ironically since the "problem" in my eyes is that we can't drink freely... Alas.)

I enjoyed this post, despite its seeming negativity. :) Very well said.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Otir said...

Ah ah ! Tomate Farcie, bien vu ! Bien que j'imagine que cela soit plutôt différent à San Francisco et sur la côte Est, j'ai retrouvé tant de clichés rencontrés par chez moi (petit bled, mais nous sommes quelques Français "de souche" à aimer y vivre, chacun de notre côté), et il y a LE restaurant français qui tire essentiellement sa gloire de s'appeler tel, et d'y avoir un chef français...

Le quatorze juillet, à part inviter ma congrégation religieuse à terminer l'office sur l'air de la Marseillaise, - ce qui est certain plus américain que français comme tradition - je ne sacrifie à rien de patriotique, au grand étonnement de mes voisins. On en a fait bien plus l'an passé pour la demie-finale de la coupe du monde de foot !

8:00 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Otir: Je crois que la Bay Area est unique en effet, dès qu'on s'éloigne de 50 ou 100km d'ici, l'ambiance change complètement et je n'aurais peut-être pas éprouvé le besoin d'écrire ce billet si je me trouvais dans une ambiance differente ;)

C'est vrai, la demie-finale et la débacle avec Zidane avait fait tellement plus de bruit que le 14 Juillet :) De retour au boulot j'ai eu droit aux plaisanteries lourdes du genre "si je ne te laisse pas passer, tu vas me donner un coup de tête?" mais bon, c'est pas bien grave, on laisse passer :)

7:53 PM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Kbam: "seeming" indeed ;)

7:54 PM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

MadameK: I was responding to Elisabeth when it occurred to me that maybe part of my comment would answer your question, so I thought I'd repost it here.

"While I am very critical of all the "French 'snobbism' and fakery" around here, I still keep the door is wide open to all those who are genuinely interested about any aspect of the French culture. To me, there is a big difference.

You probably want some concrete expamples, I imagine. OK, try this: I will not drop $65 on a plate of food at a "new trendy restaurant" just because somebody put a "French" name to it and a couple of decorations vaguely reminiscent of France, even though the cuisine isn't even French!

But I will and do help out people I sometimes barely know with translation, or advice on what to see when they go to France, or sometimes they just want to talk about their trips, and even sometimes (and when I meet one of these guys in person, I *always* find time to listen) an old guy will want to tell me about his ONLY trip to France, when he was really, really young ... during WW2! It's rare, but you still meet them once in a while.

See, snobism and fakery, no. Genuine interest and/or feelings, yes. But I guess, that's just me."

Hope that helps.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Sally said...

Hi Tomate!

I posted another comment on that Mothers' statue blog of Eric's.

All the best, Sally

7:28 PM  
Blogger luggi said...

Hi, Tomate,

Speaking of translation, thanks for the gem above. It'll be the perfect little tidbit to drop on my French teacher in the middle of our next lesson. I simply can't wait. :):):)

9:58 AM  
Blogger MadameK said...

Aaaaaah! I get it.

Wow, I honestly had no idea such a thing existed. I never knew any Francophiles when I lived in the US. I wonder if there is similar fakery & snobbery in say NYC. I would certaily imagine so.

The irony of it all of course is--here in France, the French try to become more and more American everyday.

Can we try to organize some sort of immigration swap so I can keep smoking in public please?

1:36 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Luggi: You know, I'd be careful with that ;) The Ritchie kid's humor is not for everybody and, out of context, your French teacher could very well take it the wrong way. You know best! :)


MadameK: I think that kind of fakkery is really widespread here (In fact, if you want my opinion, I think it's partly the reason why Kerry lost the elections, you know, some people couldn't stand his "French" connections, perceived him as a "guy who thinks his sh... don't smell" if you know what I mean).

Yeah, I know what's happening in France. As far as I'm concerned it's always been that way, my family (my mother in particular) has always been strongly pro-American and it took a 2d Bush term for her to be slightly more critical...

You know, I didn't make up the $65 for a plate of food. A friend tried to drag me to a restaurant and convince me it was worth it because they were "gonna celebrate Bastille Day for real and sing the Marseillaise at the end." The wine was extra. My friend told me after the fact that most people in attendance were tourists in SF.

9:53 AM  
Blogger luggi said...

thanks Tomate, but it went pretty well. LOL I put it in a little context (comme dit Nicole Ritchie ... ), and she had a good laugh. She's actually totally cool, unlike some of the teachers we've had at the local alliance, who are a bit weird (not weird like spouse and I, but different (!?).

10:15 AM  

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