Attention Washington Francophiles! Today is Bastille Day -- the French Fête Nationale commemorating the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Can't make make it to France tonight? Pas de problème. There are plenty of celebrations right here (as if you didn't see THAT coming).
Our top recommendation? Head out (yes, that's a French pun for you) to the French maid relay race at L'Enfant Café's (2000 18th St. N.W.) Bastille Day Bash. Watch -- or be one of -- 30 competitors, all dressed in French Maid costumes. Ooh la la! The race starts at 8 p.m., but aim to arrive when the doors open at 5. Celebrate with French music, wine and beer specials, door prizes and more. Stick around for the free cake -- courtesy of the night's hosts, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Yep, they will LET YOU EAT CAKE.
Marie Reed School(2200 18th St. N.W.) hosts some zany afternoon fun from 4-6 p.m.. The National Capital Club de Pétanque will demo the French sport pétanque (similar to bocce ball) and then open up the field for play. The Kamel Zennia Band will play French and world music from 6-8 p.m.
You can also opt to party it up at Bistro du Coin (1738 Connecticut Ave. N.W.) with a French evening meal. But the real party gets crackin' at 11:30 p.m., as a DJ cranks up the French tunes and celebration begins in full force. There's no cover charge but you can expect long lines.
Napoleon Café (1847 Columbia Road N.W.) will have the complimentary champagne flowing all night for those decked out in all three French colors (blue, white and red). Starting at 7p.m., nosh on festive fare like mini croque monsieurs and french fries (and there's a buy-one, get-one-free deal) while a DJ spins French hits. Sister restaurant Café Bonaparte (1522 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.) will be get into the action by offering select half-price bottles of wine all night.
Café du Parc (1401 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.) is turning Penn Avenue into the Champs Elysées. From noon-2 p.m. and 6-9 p.m, sample French dishes while an accordion player cranks out some quasi-romantic tunes. Trés authentique, non?
From 7-9 p.m., the SOphisticated SOcial Hour -- yes, we've noticed it's actually TWO horus -- takes over Sofitel(806 15th St. N.W.). The luxury hotel will host races reminiscent of those at Les Halles. Think speed-walking while carrying trays of full water glasses. Top prize is -- what else -- a bottle of wine. Not into racing? You can still take part in the festivities with a free tasting of French wines and delight in cocktails made with French ingredients. Just be sure to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
So go toast to a merry Bastille Day. Just don't get too excited -- we wouldn't want you to lose your head.