On the evening of Friday 14 July 2023, the French Ambassador to Luxembourg, Claire Lignières-Counathe, hosted a Bastille Day reception at Cercle Cité in Luxembourg-Ville.
The reception, which celebrated France's national day (Fête Nationale), was organised with the support of the Chambre Française de Commerce et d'Industrie, the Conseillers du Commerce Extérieur and the Association Victor Hugo. Guests included representatives of the Luxembourg Government and other political figures, several Luxembourg-based ambassadors and fellow diplomats, individuals with links to the French military and other members of (or people with links to) the Grand Duchy's sizable French community.
In her speech (in French with part of the introduction in Luxembourgish), Ambassador Lignières-Counathe described Bastille Day as an occasion to commemorate the French values of "liberty, equality and fraternity". She went on to highlight the close ties that have long existed between France and Luxembourg, noting in particular their strong cultural relations: 2024 will mark the 70th anniversary of their cultural agreement. She highlighted their "exemplary" cooperation within the framework of Esch2022 - European Capital of Culture. She added that France will host two major sporting events next year: the Rugby World Cup and the Olympic and Paralympic Games; the Olympic flame is expected to pass by the Moselle, near the Luxembourg border, at the end of June 2024.
Ambassador Lignières-Counathe reflected on the size and valuable contribution of the French community within Luxembourg. With over 49,000 French nationals living in the country, the French are the second largest foreign community (after the Portugues) in the Grand Duchy. Added to this are some 120,000 cross-border workers who travel from France to Luxembourg for work each day. The French Ambassador later noted the ongoing development of cooperation in the area of teleworking for cross-border workers, as well as in the areas of transport, health and training, among others.
She noted that both France and Luxembourg are founding members of the European Union and have a key role to play in the EU's future. She also stressed the importance of international support for Ukraine, noting that the "best response" to Russia's war of aggression, and several other present-day challenges, was "solidarity".
A choir from the Conservatoire de Luxembourg then played the national anthems of Luxembourg ("Ons Heemecht") and France ("La Marseillaise"), as well as the "Anthem of Europe". Guests then continued to network and celebrate France's national day over food (including bread, French cheese and sliced meats) and drinks.
The reception was preceded by an official ceremony at the Monument of Remembrance (Golden Lady - Gëlle Fra), in the presence of the French Ambassador and Luxembourg's Minister of Finance, Yuriko Backes, among other dignitaries.
Elsewhere in Luxembourg City, certain bars and cafes held their own Bastille Day-themed parties on Friday evening.
Each year on 14 July, France celebrates its national day, widely known in English as Bastille Day. The date commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison on 14 July 1789, at the start of the French Revolution, or more specifically the first anniversary of this symbolic event, celebrated as the "Fête de la Fédération" (1790). Celebrations traditionally include fireworks and an impressive military parade on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, in front of the French President, government representatives, ambassadors and other officials. This year, President Emmanuel Macron invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the military parade; in 2017, then US President Donald Trump had been the guest of honour.
There was tightened security this year amid fears of renewed unrest (following weeks of protests and riots) in France, with fireworks displays cancelled in certain towns and additional police officers deployed around the country to maintain order. At the time of writing, there were no reports of violence.