Reportage: French National Day 2017

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Joyeux le 14 juillet ! France celebrates a strong and united country on French National Day 2017 in Hong Kong.

Photo Credit: Jasmine Lee

The 14 July marked French National Day, a day when France celebrates the Fête de la Fédération in 1790, a holiday festival held in honour of the French Revolution. The French Consulate in Hong Kong had its own celebration of this special day, holding a reception in the Bauhinia Room at the HKCEC last Friday. Speaking at the event was the French Consul General Eric Berti, who was then followed by Finance Secretary of the HKSAR Paul Chan at the podium.

In his speech, Berti discussed the highlights from over the last year in France, most prominently the presidential election that came to choose Emmanuel Macron, France’s youngest president, as the head of state. Berti referred to what he said is President Macron’s new motto, “Confidence, Optimism, and Benevolence”, saying that this has reflected France in the past and will continue to guide its actions in the coming future. “France is stronger when it is united,” said Berti, and he looks forward to seeing his country continue to prosper together in the upcoming years.

Paul Chan, who spoke right after, said that this year presented the “new chapter of our two economies, our two peoples.” This new chapter is not only marked by the election of the new French president, but also the turnover of power from CY Leung to Chief Executive Carrie Lam that occurred in early July.

The reception itself featured some of the finest French cuisine, including the classic combination of wine and cheese. Along with the flowing champagne, wine, and cocktails, the bar served pastis, which is a renowned spirit originating from the south of France. Next to the stage, an ice sculpture of the Eiffel Tower stood tall, lit with purple undertones that accentuated the artistry of the culture from which it came.

Along with the French National Day celebrations, it is also worth giving our attention to the 25th annual Le French May, one of the largest cultural events in Asia. While Le French May is a two month long festival that brings the best of French performances, film, and art to Hong Kong, in many cases it shows the bridge that connects French and Hong Kong culture. As Chan said when he spoke at the National Day Reception, “Le French May captured the imagination of Hong Kong and the creative spirit of France.” One such example is the exhibition called “Inventing Le Louvre”, which is being held at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. In the exhibit there is a short film that details the building of the Louvre and the Forbidden City, giving the viewers little-known facts of the similarities in the development of the French and Chinese palaces, and the cultural exchanges between China and France over the centuries that inexplicably affected each other more than one would think.

The exhibition will be open at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum until 24 July.