Cambridge took on the colours of red, white and blue on Saturday, July 14, as the town celebrated Bonjour Bastille Day. Organised by the Cambridge Le Quesnoy committee each year, the French-themed day sees Cambridge celebrate its connection with French sister city Le Quesnoy.
For those wondering why we celebrate Bastille Day and our relationship to Le Quesnoy, the connection started back in November 1918, one week before the end of World War 1, when New Zealand soldiers liberated the French town from German occupation. To this day, Le Quesnoy remembers that sacrifice with streets named after New Zealand places, a New Zealand war memorial and even a primary school named after a Kiwi soldier. Originally Bastille Day was celebrated to mark the turning point of the French Revolution, when the people of Paris stormed the Bastille fortress-prison on July 14, 1789.
On July 14, 2018, Cambridge played its part with a bevvy of Bastille Day activities, including French-themed challenges at the Farmers Market, store fronts and staff donning French flair, a booked-out French lunch at Cambridge Primary and very popular crepe workshops run by Apéro French Cuisine. The Cambridge Brass Band also gave a life performance, with proceeds from the lunch and workshops going towards fundraising efforts for the band’s participation at the Le Quesnoy centenary commemorations in November.
Bonjour Bastille Day organiser Julie Epps said it was a great day on Saturday with donut-bobbing being the biggest hit with kids, and the delight for many of seeing French flags and berets throughout the CBD – in fact a handful of people thought it was to celebrate France’s victory in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
“Bastille Day is always a great day in town with the shops going all out, decorating French-style,” said Julie. “Walking down Victoria and Duke Sts there were French flags and berets everywhere, and amazing French displays in store.
“Bastille Day isn’t complete without French food, and this year we organised a French lunch in conjunction with the Cambridge Brass Band and caterer Mel Teesdale from Apéro French Cuisine. It was a fundraiser for the Cambridge Brass Band’s trip to Le Quesnoy in November, and it was so popular it sold out quickly.”
More than 80 people attended the lunch, with more attending crepe workshops throughout the afternoon. “The Cambridge Primary School Hall was the perfect venue, all decked out in the French theme,” said Julie. “The food was superb and the entertainment by the Brass Band was spot on!
“We want to thank everyone who contributed to the day – all the helpers, the shops and cafes, and to all the people who came along and joined in the fun of a French day.”