In France, Bastille Day is a patriotic event, but in Frenchtown it will be a celebration of the arts. It will take place on Saturday, July 15, starting at 3 p.m.
Sponsored by the Frenchtown Business & Professional Association, it will include live music on the street and French cuisine in participating restaurants. Artists and artisans will be displaying and selling their work. A competition will determine the “fastest, steadiest server this side of the Delaware.”
A highlight of the day will be a live performance by River Town Radio Theater in the ArtYard’s theater from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. ArtYard is at 62 Trenton Ave., adjacent to the Lovin’ Oven restaurant.
The original drama “Napoleon’s Piano” is billed as an “homage to the revolutionary spirit” focusing on “a little known highlight of post-French Revolution shenanigans that cannot be found in any history books. Whoever knew Napoleon played such a mean piano?!” A discussion of Frenchtown dining opportunities will follow the play.
A donation of $10 per person is recommended. Proceeds will benefit the FBPA and ArtYard to help them continue to host community events. Tickets are available on eventbrite
The Bastille was a French fortress that was stormed by a mob to free political prisoners on July 14, 1789, an event that led to the overthrow of the monarchy.
Frenchtown’s founder, Paul Henri Mallet Prevost, was an officer in the army of the new republic who had been too helpful to the aristocracy. In 1794 he got word that he was scheduled for the guillotine, so he and his entourage fled to the United States, settling in what soon came to be called Frenchtown.
Frenchtown shops, galleries and eateries, many of whom have extended their hours, will make the day special. They include:
The Spinnery, at 33 Race St., with a showing of new art prints by Christine Twomey. 3-6 p.m. and hors d’oeuvres. There will be a surprise visit from Madame DeFarge, a blood-thirsty revolutionary from “A Tale of Two Cities,” who was a prolific knitter.
Dalla Terra, 10 Bridge St. with a potter showing and demonstrating his art outside the shop, with French themed hors d’oeuvres inside.
Sunbeam General Store will offer jewelry
The Book Garden, 28 Bridge St. with a puppet show by River Union Stage.
Olive with a Twist, 12 Race St., with samples of French cheeses, including the popular brillat savarin triple cream brie, and baguettes and “Eat This” line of marmalades and jams.
Early Bird Espresso & Mercantile, 33 Bridge St., with café au lait and a selection of French pastries, including house-made croissants, an authentic French sandwich into the evening and lavender infused syrup for a spritzer, lemonade or latte.
Yoga Loka, 23 Race St., with a nod to the year of the first celebrated Bastille Day, 1790, a 17.9% discount on all boutique items, and mini-croissants and white wine in the evening, plus the showing of a French film at 8p.m.
Frenchtown Inn on Bridge Street will feature French cocktails and flavors
The Platform Cookhouse @ The Bridge Café, 8 Bridge St., with escargot served in a cast-iron dish with green garlic infused brie cheese, béchamel sauce and a brown butter crostini.
Frenchtown Wine & Liquor on Trenton Ave. will offer tastings of French wines and discounts.
The National Hotel, 32 Race St. with a French Bouillabaisse Fish Stew made with saffron, white wine sauce, shrimp, mussels, and red snapper fish, plus their signature cocktail – French Lemonade (lavender infused gin, ginger & Rosemarie Lemonade with a lemon wedge).
The Lovin’ Oven, 62A Trenton Ave. with pastry crème filled Napoleons, buttery Madeleine cookies, and crème puffs stuffed with house-made lemon curd. Vegans and gluten avoiders can also indulge with dairy-free almond chocolate pot de crèmes. The lunch menu will include Vegetable Ratatouille (featuring summer bounty of local farms), cooling Vichyssoise soup, Salad Nicoise, and house-made quiche.
A stand will be set up outside with Pissaladiere (French pizza) featuring house-made pizza dough and topped with caramelized onions and leeks, French olives and imported anchovies (optional). For those strolling on the riverside path, this little outpost will also feature grab-and-go Nicoise Salads.
Evening fare will include Roasted Chicken Provencal, Mussels in White Wine, Butter and Herbs, Mushroom Pate, and Dijon Pork Paillard.
Brokaw Photography, 34 Bridge St., with “Exposition Photographique” Bastille weekend, Saturday and Sunday noon-7 p.m., featuring the works of 12 artists. Wine and cheese will be served.
SFA – Schmidtberger Fine Art, 10 Bridge St., with “Summer Group Show,” featuring works by John Schmidtberger, Dick De Groot, and Corinne Lalin. Wine and cheese will be served.
Freedom Art & Music, 29 Race St. and Watson-Browne Gallery, 13 Race St., with wine and cheese.
“The same vein of creativity that runs through visual artists runs through Frenchtown’s musicians as well,” said Fiorito. “The gentle sounds of jazz and original music will be floating through the air along our sidewalks this Bastille Day.”
Those musical acts include Brian Fitz & Abe (acoustic guitar and ukulele), singer/songwriter Colin J. Rocker, the Robert Lanter Jazz Trio, singer/songwriter Nate Walker, Lolly Hopwood (children’s music at 4:30 near the river bridge).
Art vendors include henna artist Catherine Lent, Scatter Matter Studio (faux-taxidermy, outsider art, folk art, found object and assemblage creations), Frenchtown Metalwork (Chris Mundy’s hand-crafted metal jewelry), Bill O’Brien’s large photography prints; and Burlee Original (tables, bar tops, counter tops, serving trays, headboards, etc. out of reclaimed local hardwoods).
The event will also include a wine-tasting raffle by Beneduce Vineyards to benefit the FBPA; a roaming mini-mime, billed as “possibly the youngest mime to ever escape from an invisible box”; and historical walking tours of Frenchtown conducted by ex-newspaper editor Rick Epstein. They start at 3, 4:30 and 6 p.m. and cost $10 per person. No reservations are needed; just gather in front of the The Book Garden at 28 Bridge St.