French expats, Francophiles to fete Bastille Day in S.F.

The storming of a French prison that spurred the French Revolution is cause for celebration today by Bay Area French expatriates and Francophiles alike.

There will be music and plenty of haute cuisine, not to mention a free reception at the Palace of the Legion of Honor sponsored by the French Consulate.

Despite the defeat of France’s soccer team by Italy in the World Cup on Sunday, the mood of those celebrating Bastille Day remains upbeat, said Yvette Chalom, a member of a local group to foster bonds among French nationals living abroad.

“As far as I can tell, these things (soccer and the national holiday) are totally different,” Chalom said.

Dustin Duhne, a manager who is overseeing today’s planned feast at Grand Café, said the French people he knows were just happy to make it to the final round of the World Cup.

Bastille Day is not just about food, but a celebratory atmosphere often including dancing, Chalom said.

Still, unlike prior years, Belden Place won’t be closed off to make way for dancing and music. But Café Bastille, located on Belden, will be serving up meals for the French national holiday, sometimes equated with America’s July Fourth.

Bastille Day, which commemorates the 1789 storming of the Bastille prison, spurred the French Revolution and the overthrow of the nation’s monarchy.

Fast forward 217 years, and the French were again made notorious for what some consider on the violent side.

French soccer star Zinedine Zidane is infamous for his head-butt against Italian player Marco Materazzi during the critical championship game.

“I knew the Italians were better,” Chalom said. “He should have controlled himself better, but he was insulted.”

mcarroll@examiner.com

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