Earlier this week, ‘Mericans celebrated our independence with beer, brats, and fireworks that made half of the city miserable. This weekend and next, you can celebrate independence the French way, with pork belly, wine, and dancing in the street.
The French holiday, officially July 14, commemorates the storming of the Bastille by an angry mob in 1789. The medieval fortress and prison, which at the time held seven political prisoners, had come to symbolize tyrannical monarchical authority.
To commemorate this occasion, the French honor all things that represent France, such as the tricolor flag and La Marseillaise, both of which originate from the revolution. The day is celebrated with fireworks, communal eating, and parades. Okay, maybe it’s not that different from our 4th of July, but with better food.
So why stop at one patriotic celebration this month? There are Bastille Day festivities this weekend and next, so you can keep the party going well into July.
First up, this Sunday, July 9, you can join the party thrown by Meritage, St. Paul’s bastion of French cooking, in conjunction with Alliance Française, a nonprofit that promotes French language and culture. This is the second year for the festival, held outside on Landmark Plaza. Chef Russell Klein will be roasting a whole lamb, which partiers can enjoy in a few different guises: in sandwich form with arugula, grilled onion, and tzatziki; as couscous royal with lamb, chicken, and merguez; and as a platter with couscous salad and mint chimichurri. There will also be a selection of crepes and beignets. You can test your wine knowledge with a blind tasting of red, white, and rose.
Go for the food and wine, stay for the entertainment and edification. The event features live music by Café Accordion Orchestra and the Francine Roche Trio. Dana Bogema of KFAI will DJ and emcee the event. You can also start your path to fluency with a five-minute crash course in French and stroll the Francophone Bazaar, showcasing local artists and organizations like Bamba Cisse, Minnesota Opera, French American Heritage Foundation, and more.
Attendance is free, food and drink is not.
Sunday, July 9
Landmark Plaza, 370 St. Peter St., St. Paul
The following Sunday, July 16, you can continue your celebrating at Barbette’s block party, the longest lived Bastille day shindig in the Twin Cities, marking its 14th year. There’s food, drink and entertainment (sensing a theme here?). Dance the day away with MC Foxy Tann, Aby Wolf, Black Widows, Monica LaPlante, Nadine Dubois & Les Folies Risque, Mark Mallman, and Heiruspecs. There’s also a street artist market. And you can have fun while doing good: A portion of the event proceeds benefit Be the Match, which supports bone marrow transplantation. Just fair warning – there may also be jugglers and mimes.
Sunday, July 16
3 p.m.-10 p.m.
1600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
If you like to do your celebrating sitting down, head to Bar Brigade Saturday and Sunday, July 15 and 16, when the new restaurant helmed by JD Fratzke, late of the dearly departed Strip Club, will offer Bastille weekend brunch. It will be the first time the new restaurant has opened for brunch – and the last for a while, although it sounds like there are plans to add brunch to the menu permanently sometime this fall. Dine in the civilized French manner on dishes like French toast (of course), with strawberries and honey; wild berry crepes; quiche; and the Croque Brigade, combining pork belly, béchamel, tomato, gruyere, and egg on brioche. Get into the spirit by pairing your brunch with a lovely French rose. Oui, oui! You can reserve your spot on Open Table.
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
470 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul