Today is France’s national day, called the La Fête Nationale.
Among other organizations related to that country, the offices of Alliance Française, the nation’s cultural arm here, will be closed.
The day is informally called Bastille Day by people who are not French, but the origins are more complex. The Bastille was the prison that was stormed July 12, 1789, at the outset of the French Revolution.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the U.S. secretary of State, noted the French contribution to philosophy and democracy in her annual message.
“Creating and sustaining a representative government is never easy, but the United States and the world have drawn inspiration from the French Republic for more than two centuries. Founded on shared ideals of liberty and equality and strengthened through the sufferings and triumphs of two world wars, this relationship is a powerful example to the world,” she said.
The day also is a red-letter one for diplomats all over the world who will have the advantage today for French hospitality. After all, this is the country that coined the term haute cuisine. Parties at French and Italian embassies are held in high regard.