Cover image: French Tuesdays © Daniel Serrette and Magdalina
French Tuesdays: The Friday Edition
Mellow mists and balmy drizzles veiled the Hudson River’s Pier 40 on Friday evening as blue, white, and red bedecked revelers boarded a ship to celebrate Bastille Day with a three-hour cruise around Manhattan. The evening illustrates just how well French Tuesdays – an invitation-only global community, classy social networking phenomenon, and lifestyle brand – has reached yet another level of excellence in the event planning world with panache and flair. It partnered with Champagne Canard-Duchêne and XL Airways to host a Bastille Day celebration cruise for New York French Tuesdays members and guests.
“It was the consecration of the unity of France,” explained French Senate Chairman Henri Martin of this holiday’s genesis and importance in his 1880 address to the Senate. Indeed, the Storming of the Bastille fortress – a symbol of royal authority and its abuses – on July 14th in 1789 had proved a turning point in the French Revolution, and on July 14th the following year Bastille Day was a celebration of peace. Finally in 1880 July 14th was voted an annual national holiday for the Republic and today is met with celebrations around the world. Earlier in the day even the Trumps and the Macrons cemented a new and perhaps unlikely friendship in Paris over dinner at the Eiffel Tower’s Jules Verne restaurant.
Flash back to the river cruise celebration in New York: a photo booth, a raffle for XL Airways tickets to Paris, music, and air conditioning graced the middle deck, leaving the top deck as open air for those who wanted to take in the views and quieter night. The crew served dinner on the bottom deck, and the two bars offered bottle service, flutes by the glass, as well as cocktails. Wine was curiously limited to a French rose.
The ship motored north along the Hudson before turning around to head south. It tucked around a cloud-encased lower Manhattan, up the East River by DUMBO, and continued north beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, eventually U-turning to head south again.
This time the ship kept motoring south beyond the island, and suddenly a hush could be heard amongst the revelers. Through the gauzy twilight that had given way to a thick and dark humid night, the Statue of Liberty – which had been merely a distant apparition if not notably curtained by clouds thus far – emerged in all her lighted glory. (The copper statue was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States in the late 1800s.) Francophiles sipping French bubbles put down their glasses and walked to the stern, gazing upon Lady Liberty as though mesmerized. The shipped stopped for a spell, and for one languorously magic moment it felt like silent night.
As the vessel headed back to Pier 40, Lady Liberty faded back into the fog. The party got thumping once again, with French Tuesdays’ CEO Pierre Battu selecting the raffle winners before the ship docked at 10 pm. Sated with rose and champagne, at least two merry revelers including yours truly trotted off the gangplank and made a beeline to the West Village, capping off Bastille Day celebrations at Buvette with charcuterie and a proper carafe of red wine – French red wine bien sûr.
For more information on membership and upcoming events, visit French Tuesdays.