Frivolous, imprudent and prodigal, with an inclination for extravagant court expenditures: That's how history remembers Marie Antoinette, queen consort of King Louis XVI of France (1774-'93). She was vilified by her subjects and plotted against by her enemies, many of whom circulated juicy details of alleged extramarital affairs that culminated in the "affair of the diamond necklace," whereby the queen was accused of having an illicit affair with a cardinal. Marie Antoinette became the red meat symbol of popular agitators, who attributed to her the celebrated and coldhearted remark--"Let them eat cake!"--after she was told her subjects had no bread. The overthrow of the Antoinette-infested monarchy was symbolically sparked on the morning of July 14, 1789, when a mob of Parisians stormed the Bastille, a medieval fortress on the east side of Paris whose beginnings reach back to the 14th century. It was a state prison in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it held just seven prisoners--most of them political--on the fateful morning in the opening days of the French Revolution. The Bastille became a despised symbol of royal tyranny and the despotism of the House of Bourbon, the ruling house of Europe from which emanated many of the reigning kings of France (and from which came the term "Bourbon temperament" or enormous appetite for sexual intercourse).
The death of the ancient regime culminated in 1793 when Louis XVI was executed in January and Marie Antoinette was guillotined the following October. The Bastille was subsequently demolished by the revolutionary government. Celebrated annually on July 14, Bastille Day was designated a French national holiday in 1880 and is celebrated with parades, speeches and fireworks, much like the Fourth of July in this country.
The French-American Chamber of Commerce Dallas/Fort Worth will celebrate the 214th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Hotel Intercontinental Dallas, 15201 Dallas Parkway. The celebration will include beer (handcrafted brews from the New Belgium Brewing Co.), wine, a buffet and performances by acrobats and jugglers including Fanny Kerwich-Doyle, a French-born circus artist who has had stints with Cirque du Soleil, the Moscow Circus and the Moulin Rouge and Lido in Paris. Tickets are $60 per person and can be purchased by calling 972-241-0111, or on the Web at www.faccdallas.com. The French-American Chamber of Commerce Dallas/Fort Worth is a nonprofit commercial service organization dedicated to the promotion of trade and investment between France and the United States. --Mark Stuertz
On the Range
Fearing really sizzles
Rest assured the words "weenies," "cheeseburger" and "KC Masterpiece" won't be uttered within several miles of this picnic. Dean Fearing, The Mansion on Turtle Creek's chef-extraordinaire, will pay homage to meat slowly roasting over the fire on Saturday at the Chef Fearing & Friends Annual Summer Barbecue Bash, benefiting the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. A cadre of guest barbecue masters will be working the coals while NBC's celebrity weatherman Al Roker (no vegetarian, he) does his thing as master of ceremonies. Fearing and a few other musically inclined chefs will entertain, on guitar, vocals and, one would hope, stainless steel tongs. Tickets are $175. The Mansion on Turtle Creek, 2821 Turtle Creek. Call 214-520-5817. --Thomas Korosec
Get on the Bus
If you are historically inclined--or bored, take your pick--then you might consider embarking on a tour of scenic Dallas with the Brookhaven College Senior Adult Education Program as it begins Exploring Downtown Dallas. Historian Dr. Michael Hazel will guide the air-conditioned bus as it ambles through downtown, visiting such cultural staples as the Belo Building and Deep Ellum on July 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $30, which includes lunch. The bus departs from Brookhaven College, 3939 Valley View Lane. Call 972-860-4698. --Mary Monigold
It's time to retire the flapped deerstalker and the magnifying glass; gone is the golden age of Holmes and Poirot and even the less-golden age of Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. Nowadays the "usual suspects" are rounded up by forensic crime fighters like the cast of CSI. At Court TV's Mobile Investigation Unit, both kids and adults have the chance to solve a caper by collecting clues at interactive kiosks and even create their personal "forensic file" with photos and digital fingerprints. Join the shamus ranks July 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The Science Place, Fair Park, 1318 Second Ave. Admission is $7.50 for adults and $4 for children. Call 214-428-5555. --Michelle Martinez