French Revolution,  Paris,  Paris News

Happy Bastille Day 2020!

While most of us are still not allowed to visit Paris or France in person, I wanted to share a few things to help you get through today. Grab a baguette, a cup of coffee, and a tri-color badge and get comfy!

To keep with the theme of the last two posts (here and here) and with the day itself, let’s focus on the French Revolution.

For a nice work distraction, we’ll begin with Oversimplified‘s two-part video series on the French Revolution. Of course there weren’t actually Porsches and Marie Antoinette did not really say “Let them eat cake”, but it is good fun and a great intro to such a complicated topic. And they really did like putting heads on spikes!

Appetite whet? For more reading, check out Britannica or the exceptionally in-depth Wikipedia page.

For a little piece of Paris, the delightfully idiosyncratic French Frye in Paris (aka Corey Frye), did a video last year examining the Palais Royal with a Revolution (and roses) theme. The crimson roses at 15:45 are my favorite!

Check out the whole channel here. Corey also has a blog and does private tours, once we’re back there.

For Fun

Last but not least, one of my favorite movies: The Scarlet Pimpernel!

I fell in love with the 1982 BBC version of The Scarlet Pimpernel when I was in elementary school. It was my first costume drama crush. Dashing duels! Beautiful gowns! Spies! Snarky villains! With Anthony Andrews (aka Ivanhoe), Ian McKellen (well before Magneto and LOTR) and a young Jane Seymour, it’s pretty much perfect.

It is based rather loosely on the first two Pimpernel novels by Baroness Orczy. She wrote a large number of them, though only first two really took off in popular culture. This movie’s predecessor, the 1934 version with Leslie Howard, stays much truer to the first novel. It is an excellent film in its own right, but Leslie doesn’t match Anthony in charm or tight pants, imho. 😉

All versions of Sir Percy Blakeney, Baronet, are completely fictional. But the time period the novels/movies are set it is very real. This is the blood-thirsty revolution and the stakes are high for our heroes. There is danger, duplicity, and of course romance. In the movie, the scenes around the executions are particularly claustrophobic and feel quite real in their confusion and fear.

One does have to take a leap of faith: would a British aristocrat really do that? Would a French operative be that obtuse? But it is good fun, nonetheless. And did I mention the costumes?!

Check It Out

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases of items marked “affiliate link” below.


The one that started it all for me: The 1982 BBC Version DVD and Prime Video [both affiliate links].

The 1934 version, for comparison and a more faithful-to-the-novel experience: DVD and Prime Video [both affiliate links].


There are several options to read the original novels:

Low Cost Kindle Option [affiliate link] A very basic e-book, but gets the job done for the Pimpernel Curious. It’s nice to have when the mood strikes!

The Signet Classic Paperback Option [affiliate link] This is the traditional printing, I own a copy myself. Yes, I own two versions.

The story of The Scarlet Pimpernel is so popular, modern author Lauren Willig created a whole new series! It is based on the idea that the Pimpernel retires after the Revolution, but a spy ring is still needed to go up against Napoleon. And so we meet the even more elusive Pink Carnation. The entire series is an entertaining romp and has become one of my favorite book series. This time, the women get to have more fun!

Get started with the debut novel “The Secret History of the Pink Carnation” in paperback or for Kindle [both affiliate links].

Does the name ring any bells? Warner Brothers spoofed The Scarlet Pimpernel and other derring-do stories with the classic The Scarlet Pumpernickel. Daffy to the rescue!

I wish you a very happy Bastille Day! Hopefully next year we can celebrate in person!!

Please let me know if you too have a crush on Percy! Or perhaps Marguerite? Merci! 🙂

Article Thumnail: Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of June 30, 1878, by Claude Monet. Wikimedia Commons, posted by Philafrenzy. Public Domain, PD-US-expired.

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