Smith Street returns with annual celebration of French culture and cuisine for Bastille Day

The patriotic Independence Day party from last week is not quite over yet thanks to the French, as Smith Street’s annual blowout Bastille Day festival will be taking place again this Sunday, July 14, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. from DeGraw Street down several blocks south.

Full of food, live music, French liquor and conversation, and games of pétanque, the 11th annual event is held in Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill because of the neighborhood’s sizable French expat and French-American population, which have brought many local French restaurants, bistros, boutiques, and patisseries.

Similar to America’s Fourth of July, Bastille Day is the French national holiday that venerates the storming of Paris’ emblematic prison on July 14, 1789 and the French Revolution that followed after.

Starting at noon sharp, the pétanque tournament is one of the anticipated highlights of the Bastille Day celebration. Competitors of the tournament come from all over the neighborhood, the NYC Metro Area, and around the world.

Similar to bocce, the goal of winning pétanque is to throw three metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball – “cochonnet” – while the player remains standing in an outlined circle.

Two restaurants that host the annual pétanque tournament – the largest in the United States – are Bar Tabac and Provence en Boite.

The manager of Bar Tabac said the celebration is “crazy, but a very good day for everyone,” with more than ten thousand expected to come celebrate.

Leslie Bernat, one of the owners of Provence en Boite, who has organized the tournament for the last 7 years, also commented, “People love the way we celebrate. It’s a day of fun and relaxation, where you can get a bit to eat and hang out.”

“It’s becoming a popular sport because anyone can play, whether you’re a professional or amateur,” Bernat said.

French TV and press will be present at the event, with Borough President Marty Markowitz, the French Consul, and police precinct officials also in attendance.

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