ACD, See?
(Just Wanna Be) Misunderstood

Jour de Gloire

Fig. 1 - Key to the Bastille

Jacques Chirac notwithstanding, we wish a Happy Bastille Day to French folk and Francophiles far and near.

In the period following the twin Revolutions -- American and French -- the Marquis de Lafayette seems to have cornered the market on keys to the old Bastille:

He famously sent one (pictured to the right) in 1790 as a gift to his friend, mentor and comrade in arms, George Washington, who thereafter displayed it in the entry hall at Mount Vernon. The key is still there, and you can view it in context via this Mount Vernon Virtual Tour. It hangs on the wall near the bottom of the stairs in the first room you will view on the tour. A charm or brooch replicating the key can be had in the Gift Shop, for those who crave a memento. (I can never recall the French word for souvenir . . . .)

Less well known is Lafayette's 1825 presentation of a second, larger key to a Masonic lodge in Alexandria, Virginia. Make of that what you will. That key is on display at the Museum of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria.

Should you wish to celebrate Bastille Day at home, I recommend obtaining a crusty baguette, some Brie or Camembert and a bottle of something red from Burgundy or the Rhone, and consuming them with élan and joie de vivre whilst viewing, say, The Triplets of Belleville. It's funnier than the Tour de France, and you can dance to it.


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