How to Celebrate Bastille Day With a Night of French Culture

Alliance Française hosts a Bastille Day celebration in north Minneapolis
Alliance Française’s 2020 Bastille Day celebration.

JLA Graph Photography

Vive la France! Wednesday, June 14, marks the 232nd anniversary of Bastille Day. Back in the 18th century, French citizens stormed the Bastille prison in Paris, signaling the beginning of the French Revolution.

Every year, France commemorates this historic holiday, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter of Alliance Française, a global non-profit and French cultural center, is bringing these traditions to the Twin Cities. Alliance Française of Minneapolis-St. Paul (AFMSP) will hold its annual Bastille Day celebration on June 14 from 5-8 p.m., offering an exciting evening of festivities and French culture.

Christina Selander Bouzouina, the executive director of AFMSP, says that the Twin Cities chapter of the organization has held a Bastille Day celebration for more than 30 years.

“In our archives and photo albums we have pictures going back to the ’80s of various Bastille Day events,” Bouzouina says.

The event is split up between four locations in the north Minneapolis Harrison neighborhood, hosted at the AFMSP building and at the locations of four of their partners within a two-block radius: Royal Foundry Craft Spirits, La Doña Cerveceria, wine and spirits shop Henry & Son, and the Link, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting youth on Minneapolis’ northside (adjacent to Henry & Son). Each location will feature various activities throughout the evening, including dance performances, live music, and showcases from local French and French-speaking artists. The celebration will also have French vintage cars on display and host a car parade to the Link’s donation center.

Vintage cintroen cars at the 2020 Bastille Day event.

JLA Graph Photography

Kids are more than welcome at Bastille Day, as well, with activities such as a bouncy castle, face painting and henna tattoos to be held at the AFMSP building. Bouzouina also emphasized that the event is open to everyone, not just to people in the French or French-speaking community.

“You don’t have to speak French to come to Bastille Day,” Bouzouina says. “You don’t have to speak French to come to any of our events, or become a member or join our community.”

AFMSP is among the 800 chapters of Alliance Française globally, and it is the fifth largest chapter in the US. Alliance Française has existed for over 100 years, but it was formally incorporated in the state of Minnesota in 1975, Bouzouina says. With a mission to promote the French language and French-speaking cultures, AFMSP offers French classes for both children and adults and hosts 150 cultural events a year.

“We’re here to celebrate the diversity of French language and anyone who’s interested in French culture and French-speaking cultures. Whether it’s film, or architecture, or art, or wine, it’s really a large and all-encompassing mission,” Bouzouina says. “I think there’s something here for everyone, and I think that will be the case Wednesday night, too.”

The event is free and open to the public. COVID-19 guidelines will be followed in accordance with the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines, including proper social distancing measures and mask requirements for unvaccinated guests. Parking will be available nearby the AFMSP building at the Firm, Downtown Dogs and on surrounding street parking spots.

Learn more at the Alliance Française Bastille Day event page.

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