8-Hour Picnic on Bastille Day

“Bonjour, could we borrow your bottle opener?” I hesitantly ask the group of people sitting on the lawn.

The woman quickly lifts up a corkscrew in the air and says, “Of course!”

Pop! With a blanket, sandwiches, cookies, and an opened bottle of wine, we are ready for an 8-hour picnic on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower.

It is 4:00 in the afternoon on Bastille Day and my friend Kimberly and I just made the decision, despite the crowds, to claim a spot on the Champ de Mars to watch the firework show.

Picking Our Spot

I snap my new blanket open and it lands softly on the worn grass. Situated slightly to the left of the Eiffel Tower, our spot is prime real estate to view the fireworks show. Large groups sitting on blankets scatter the lawn, leaving enough room for two guys to toss a football back and forth (yes, an American football.)
Time passes as quickly as our bottle of wine. After one bottle of wine between Kimberly and I, we loosen up. We start talking to the people around us and meet a group of Americans from Boston (maybe Chicago… I can’t remember) who are also studying abroad. Behind us, a group of French girls play a card game where they stick a card to their forehead. Across the lawn I see someone juggling. A few blankets back is a group of shirtless French guys playing some kind of drinking game with cups and a ball (it wasn’t beer pong). The more people that crowd the lawn, the stranger the games become.


The blankets merge together, making one ginormous picnic. It feels like a big picnic with 90,000 of our closest friends. We talk with other groups and share corkscrews. I feel like I am a part of something special. Three more girls from our group join us around 8 o’clock. They brought more food and snacks, thank goodness.

Magical Show

When the firework show started, our view was perfect. The beginning of the show was accompanied by a beautiful classical song. Everyone was silent, standing in awe. For the next 30 minutes I stared up at the Eiffel Tower, mouth gaped opened.

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