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We have two pieces of advice about celebrating Bastille Day (in Paris and around San Francisco Bay) on July 14:
From Contributing Editor and writer Riette Gallienne: "If you watch the fireworks display over the Seine in Paris, don't stay in the area long if your hotel is not close by. They close the Metro (subway) early that night, and the cab drivers all take the night off. Getting a cab at night in Paris is hard. Getting one at night on Bastille Day is almost impossible. I found out the hard way after watching the fireworks at a dinner party near the Eiffel Tower, three miles from our hotel on L'Opera. Oh, and did I mention the part about wearing heels?"
From all of us: If you're in Sausalito instead of Paris, a good choice is to go to our local French restaurant, Le Garage, where they have a special Bastille Day prix fixe menu for $50. You won't have to hurry back to the Ferry, and you won't have any trouble getting a cab to take you home if you want to do so. Further proof that the San Francisco Bay Area is even better than Paris!
Here's a video of how Riette got into all that trouble:
Postscript: A reader asked us how Riette escaped this calamity, or whether she had to walk barefoot through the streets of Paris on a cold night to get back to her hotel. The answer:
"First, my husband ran up and down the Champs du Mars, looking for places where he heard there were cabs. No luck. So we walked three blocks or so to a good sized hotel, where there was a line of about twelve people waiting for cabs out front. Because he is a gentleman I was able to sit in the comfy lobby while he stood out front in the cold cold line.
Every 20 or 30 minutes a cab would return someone to the hotel. Some picked up people from the line. Some turned off their lights and would not take new passengers. Others negotiated where they would and would not go so they would only drive in the direction of their homes, or waited for extra cash to be handed over as ransom. It took over two hours, but finally our turn came, L'Opera was in the right direction for the cab driver and we got a ride home.
I still don't know how much extra my husband paid to get that cab. I just know I was sleepy and tired of reading the hotel's magazines! Now, looking back, it's funny. But at the time I was not joining in with the cries of Vive La France!"