Bastille Day Parties -- Don't Lose Your Head! (Updated)
Friday, July 10
Bastille Day isn't until Tuesday, but the Alliance Francaise is getting the party started Friday -- a welcome state of affairs for anyone who has to work on Wednesday. Petanque classes are offered in the afternoon, and includes a show of vintage Citroën cars outside, free champagne, crepes and cheese, live music by the funk-rock band Dimestore (listen) and a mix of French dance music from DJ Herve. Admission is $45 ($30 for members) and includes the chance to win round-trip tickets from Washington to Paris on Air France. Important note: Reservations are required, and you must call 202-234-7911 to RSVP, or buy tickets in advance from francedc.org.
Saturday, July 11
If you're celebrating a French holiday, you might as well be on French soil, right? The annual Bastille Day party at the French Embassy's La Maison Française gets an older, dressier crowd than some of the other parties around town -- that could be perhaps because general admission tickets costs $85. (To be fair, that price includes an open bar, food from local French restaurants and a dessert -- tasting, and proceeds go to charity.) Entertainment comes from can-can dancers as well as traditional songs performed by singers and accordionists.
In honor of the holiday, Fontaine Caffe & Creperie is bringing a bit of Parisian street life to Old Town Alexandria's quaint corridors. Stop by the restaurant this weekend and snap up a crepe from an outdoor street cart. Savory ham-and-cheese and sweet Nutella-filled creations are on the menu and cost $5. Inside the restaurant, staffers will give out prizes every hour for diners who answer trivia questions about French culture and history. The restaurant will be celebrating on Tuesday by offering $12 flights of French (alcoholic) cider. Tuesday through July 18, there'll be a special menu that includes two courses and a cup of cider. It's $15.95 at lunch and $19.95 at dinner.
The Planet Chic events crew is marking Bastille Day weekend with Soiree Bastille Chic, a celebration of a few of the things that make France great: fashion, art, film and dance music. Mix a runway of eco-friendly clothes by designer Christine Marchuska, an exhibition of drawings by Algerian-born D.C. resident Lamine Hamdad, a screening of a documentary by French filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand about the damage humans inflict on ecological systems, and French tunes spun DJ Sebastien C. There's a lot to fit in, so arrive at Darlington House close to the 9 p.m. opening. Admission is $10 when you RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(More events after the jump)
Tuesday, July 14
This is the first Bastille Day since Les Halles closed, and the first time D.C. will be without its traditional waiters' race along Pennsylvania Avenue. The next-best thing? L'Enfant's hilarious French Maid Relay Race, which will close Vernon Street outside the restaurant. Last year, 30 women (and men) put on black-and-white costumes to participate; this year's race starts at 8, but you should show up closer to 5, when doors open, if you want to enter. Throughout the night, the young crowd enjoys French music on the stereo, wine and beer specials, free cake and an appearance by the lavishly dressed King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
For a flat-out party, you're not going to beat the scene at Bistrot du Coin. For most of the evening, it's business as usual at the lively French restaurant. Then, around 11, tables and chairs are moved out of the way, a DJ cranks up pumping house music and, before you know it, women are dancing on the zinc-topped bar, expats are shouting to be heard over the din and friends are hoisting beers while singing French football songs. At this point, getting dinner reservations is near impossible, so just show up early to claim standing room at the bar. There's no cover charge, and the door staff enforces a "one-in, one-out" policy to manage the long lines.
11:30 p.m. Tuesday. 1738 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-234-6969.
Wear red, white and blue to Napoleon in Adams Morgan on Tuesday night and you'll be treated to complimentary champagne all night, according to owner Omar Popal. (You've got to wear all three to get in on the bubbly). Mini croque monsieurs (made, oddly enough, with tater tots) and French fries will be buy-one, get-one-free all night. Starting at 7 p.m., a DJ spins French hits. Sister restaurant Cafe Bonaparte will be offering some bottles of wine at half price all night.
The bar at the Sofitel is carrying on the spirit of the waiters' races with July 14 relay races on the sidewalk outside the 15th Street hotel. Customers can compete in the relay-style runs to win bottles of wine, beginning at 7 p.m. (Read more about the races here.) The evening also includes a free tasting of French wines, and bartenders will making drinks with French ingredients (Domain de Canton ginger liqueur, Emperor vodka) both inside the hotel's art deco Le Bar and on its patio. Capacity for the party is limited, so RSVP to email@example.com to get on the list.
The staff at Mediteranee has been known to dance with customers during its annual Bastille Day celebration. This year, a singer will perform songs while diners at the Great Falls restaurant nosh on a $35 three-course menu.
Bistrot Lepic's weekly wine tasting happy hour should be more festive than usual tonight. Pay nothing to sip a red 2005 Côtes du Rhone Village or a Pouilly Fume. Tastes are offered in the upstairs wine bar between 6 and 8, and once happy hour's over, all wines are 20 percent off for the rest of the night.
Cafe du Parc's celebrations take place outside on Pennsylvania Avenue between noon and 2 p.m. and 6 and 9 p.m. With a live accordion player setting the scene, diners can choose to order off the a la carte menu or snag some $7.95 crepes to go.
The celebrations at Grand Cru will be low-key, but the savings aren't bad. House wines will be $4 and diners can score $2 off entrees and $1 off tapas. Mussels are $8 (a markdown from $13). The deals are good from 4 to 11 p.m. both inside the restaurant-shop and out on the pleasant patio.
Adour at the St. Regis is serving a $75 tasting menu, featuring courses like Maine lobster medallions and duck. On the 14th, Alexandria's Bastille will offer its $35 special menu with entrees like grilled sea bass and a Moroccan-style chicken tagine. Le Chat Noir's special menu goes for $39.95 and includes four courses and a watermelon-and-vodka cocktail.
-- Fritz and Julia
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