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Allons enfants de la Patrie!

November 17, 2010

Here’s another post from the way-back machine. This is also from my journal from my time studying in Fontainebleau. This post, written on July 18, 1991, describes our Bastille Day celebrations. A couple of things may require explanation. 1. There was/is an architecture program there as well as a conservatory. We shared living space — and a ping pong table — with the architects, but otherwise were mostly separate. 2. “Our” chateau, where all the conservatories classes took place and where the practice rooms were, was the somewhat dilapidated servants quarters to the main Fontainebleau chateau. The practice rooms were full of bats, which made evening practice sessions kind of exciting. 3. R was the guy I was dating who was about to make the shift into boyfriend territory.


On the 14th, I studied all day in the gardens. Not much to write about that. In the evening, we all dressed up and went to sing the Marseillaise for the town’s Bastille Day ceremony. Even some of the architects came and sang with us too. What a gory song! Not that our national anthem is much better. It was the first rain since we’ve been here. No fireworks, but the carnival, which had been set up in front of the gates of OUR chateau was in full swing anyway (we had been to ride the bumper cars the night before).

After the Marseillaise (and wine – kir, too sweet) and dinner at our usual cafeteria, we scavenged a radio and some music and tried to get people to dance in one of the rooms in the Hôtel d’Albe. Soon we all changed and went out to our favorite bar, “Bar du Téléphone.” It’s kind of a redneck bar with a weird, eclectic jukebox (Jacques Brel, Cyndi Lauper, The Doors, Jerry Lee Lewis…) It’s decorated with brown and crumbling holly and evergreen branches, evidently stapled to the walls in December and never removed. The bar’s name is mysterious. There isn’t a telephone in sight. In fact, it may be the only bar in town without a phone. Someone pointed out that this is not unusual. There are no salamanders at La Salamande, nor has Napoleon made an appearance at La Bonaparte (although once we did see someone who looked frighteningly like Mr. Spock). The Palais certainly doesn’t resemble its name. We then decided that bars and cafés in Fontainebleau are named for things which will never appear at them.

After a drink or two and sampling some of the jukebox selections, we made our way to the town Bastille Day celebration. Held under the covered market because of the rain, the town dance was crowded despite the weather. The band featured an accordion, played by an elderly woman. I did a fast waltz with R before the band went on break and we returned to the Bar du Téléphone for another round. We returned again to the carnival and took another few turns on the bumper cars – more vicious competition than the night before – before it began raining again. R and I ran, holding my raincoat over our heads, back to the bar where we found the others, who’d deserted the carnival more sensibly at the first sign of rain instead of waiting for the deluge.

On the final trudge home, we encountered a man standing in the door of a café wearing a scuba mask and fins. As we passed, he flapped one of his feet in a puddle, showering us anew. We arrived home tired, laughing and drenched to the skin.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Cranky permalink
    November 18, 2010 2:55 pm

    Mais donnez la victoire aux enfants de France! ALthough after reading about the Vel d’hiv recently'_d'Hiv_Roundup

    maybe not.

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