Perhaps you’re not French, but as we share a border, a language (mostly), and half of the lake, we figure why not celebrate the storming of Bastille and the start of the French revolution? Because in the end, who can’t raise a glass to liberty, equality, and democracy? Here are some ways you can celebrate Bastille Day in Lausanne, with just a tad of history for good measure.
Go eat a crepe
Apparently, the history of crepes goes all the way back to the 13th century in Brittany, France. It all started with a housewife making porridge, and accidentally spilled some onto a hot, flat stovetop. At that time, nothing went to waste, so she ate it–and voila, the crepe was born.
Head to one of Lausanne’s institutions, La Chandeleur, located on Rue de la Mercerie and order one of their crepes made from sarrasin–buckwheat flour typical to Brittany and naturally gluten-free.
Sip on pastis while playing pétanque
Pétanque comes from the phrase “pieds tanqués” (feet planted) and was actually a game that evolved from jeu provençal due to a caring and empathetic friend. The story goes that a former jeu provencal player named Jules Lenoir developed a severe form of rheumatism that prevented him from playing the traditional boules (where you had to run a few steps before throwing a boule). Lenoir’s good friend Ernest Pitiot was a renowned local café owner who decided to change the rules and the length of the pitch to accommodate his friend. And the rest, as they say, is history.
There are several pétanque clubs and courts throughout Lausanne (Pétanque du Tunnel, Pétanque les Marronniers, Pétanque le Mont-sur-Lausanne), but if you’re looking for a space that is guaranteed to accommodate you, head to Ouchy Boulodrome, where there are 17 pétanque courts and a snack bar.
Indulge on Macarons
Don’t worry, we won’t bore you with the history of the macaron (though there is a scandalous rumor that they didn’t originate in France, but in Italy–and was brought over by Catherine de Medici when she married Henry II of France in 1533). But we will tell you that these light, airy desserts are some of the most popular bite-sized delights in the world. Of course everyone knows they can indulge at La Durée, probably the most famous macaron boutique in the world (apparently they sell over 15,000 a day), but if you’re looking to support more local spots, try out El Gato bakery or Royaume Melazic.
Sip on a Kir Royale
Move over Aperol Spritz, today is the day to sip on another delightfully effervescent drink: the Kir Royal. Made with Champagne and a dash of Chambord or crème de cassis, it’s a perfect fizzy summertime drink that makes us countdown to apero hour. We love this recipe by Cookie and Kate.
Enrich yourself with some French art exhibits
What better way to pay homage to our friends across the Lake than by taking a boat and visiting an exhibit from one of their most famous museums? Until November, you can enjoy a collection of drawings from the Musée d’Orsay at the Palais Lumières in Evian.
He’s one of France’s most famous non-conformists and in 2019 the MCBA received an extraordinary gift of 34 of his works for their permanent collection. Entrance is free.
He was famed for pioneering the genre of street photography and is considered a master of the candid shot. Henri Cartier-Bresson is undoubtedly one of the most important photographers of the 20th century and forerunner to much of the visual style we see all around us today.
Travel to the heart of douce France in this exhibit featuring Impressionist Achille Laugé whose works featured scenes from his native Occitaine
Cheese plate & chill
Make a cheese plate, open a bottle of Bordeaux, and watch Midnight in Paris (or Ratatouille if with kids!)
Cheeses to look for at the fromagerie: Brie, Camembert, Tomme de Savoie, Crottin de chavignol, Comté, Roquefort
Bottles to recommend: Our wine contributor Natalie says, ” It’s Bastille Day and the best way to get festive is to open a bottle from the homeland. Cabernet Franc from the Loire is always a top pick. A chilled Gamay from Beaujolais is a close second with a Côté du Rhône GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre- or any assemblage from the region, really) in third. Passeur du Vin will have an amazing selection of all of these wines.”