Blog: Bastille Day on 60th Street
Summertime street fairs are just a small part of what makes Manhattan so unique. New Yorkers of all ages, genders, and ethnicities converge for the same purposes- to explore, discover, and participate. Call it midtown east or the lower upper east side, but Sunday’s celebration on 60th Street between Lexington and Fifth Avenues drew thousands of locals to the area in honor of Bastille Day on 60th Street, the early July festival honoring French independence. While sometimes our views on the French can certainly be considered conflicted, the sights, sounds, and smells of the afternoon were a true celebration of French customs and cuisine.
For over ten years, the event has graced the 60th street location, commemorating France’s Independence Day (July 14, 1789), bringing a family atmosphere to the neighborhood. Live music, interactive attractions, and the best in Manhattan’s French fare capped off a beautiful afternoon this weekend, filled with face painting and balloon animals for children. Competitive raffles including trips to Paris, Florida, and Switzerland along with baskets of beauty products and gift cards to French restaurants like Le Cirque, Le Perigord, and La Mangeoire, were given out as prizes to winners chosen at random. The event also hosted several intimate tastings at the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF), where for just $15, patrons could taste French wines provided by Vins de Provence, cheeses from President and Societe Specialty Cheeses, summer cocktails made with Ricard, and craft beers courtesy of Jenlain and Pietra- a tremendous value for all-inclusiveness and for a four and a half hour window on a summery afternoon.
If that wasn’t enough, Bastille Day also provided free live music on their main stage from Can-Can dancers to the jazzy Banda Magda to the openers, Veveritse, a loud and energetic brass band delivering dance beats. Food and drink vendors like Financier Patisserie, Macaron Café, Augustin’s Waffles, The Crepe Escape, Le Souk Harem, and Brasserie Les Halles, lined the streets between clothing and jewelry vendors, and travel and lifestyle booths. Needless to say, the afternoon offered literally something interesting for everyone.
Make no mistake, the crowds here were densely packed and the walking space in the street was narrow, making any parents wheeling their strollers and blocking foot traffic an automatic enemy of the young and single. But there was a unique energy, one that can only be found at a celebration of sorts, and for an event that only happens once every summer, bearing the crowds and the heat was absolutely worthwhile for such a positive and distinctive experience.
- Jane Van Arsdale