The French Celebrate the “Awakening of Freedom” On Bastille Day

Vive la France! It’s Bastille Day, or French National Day, today and HE Thierry Mathou, Ambassador of France to Thailand, will hold the French National Day reception this evening in Bangkok with attendees at Swissotel Bangkok Ratchada (owned by the French hospitality conglomerate Accor) including .

The event will be attended by many personalities such as Privy Counciller Atthaniti Disatha-amnarj, Senate President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, caretaker Deputy PM Anutin Charnvirakul, Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt and distinguished guests from various sectors.

The French Embassy is sharing with us Information about the French National Day and the state of Franco-Thai relations below. Happy Bastille Day!

HE Thierry Mathou, Ambassador of France to Thailand

14 July, a day of unity

When we think of 14 July, we generally think of the storming of the Bastille in 1789, and “Bastille Day” as many countries call it.

For the French, 14 July is an opportunity to come together and celebrate. This tradition was established in 1790 with “Federation Day”, which brought together the French people in republican banquets to celebrate concord and restored national unity. In 1880, 14 July became our “National Holiday”, with military parades, fireworks, balls and popular celebrations.

Since then, 14 July has been an opportunity for the French people across France and the world to meet and celebrate the “awakening of freedom” together.

14 July and symbols of France

Bastille Day on 14 July is an opportunity for French people, wherever they may be in the world, to celebrate the symbols and values of the Republic:
– Liberty – Equality – Fraternity

Say to any French person “Liberté, Egalité…”, and they will instantly complete the motto.

Give it a try!

Since 1880 (when 14 July was set as the French national holiday) each national holiday has been celebrated with a major military parade on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, to demonstrate the unbreakable link between the French people and their army.

The parade takes place in the presence of the President of the French Republic, the Prime Minister, members of the government, the Presidents of the Senate and National Assembly, foreign ambassadors in France and sometimes foreign Heads of State.

All sit in the VIP stand at the end of the Champs-Élysées, on Place de la Concorde. After a flypast by the Patrouille de France, various army corps march down the famous avenue in turn, saluting the Head of State and representatives from the executive and legislative branches of government.

The tricolour flag, a national emblem

The tricolour flag came about during the French Revolution by combining the colour of the king (white) with those of Paris (blue and red).

The tricolour only took on its definitive form in 1794, before being adopted in modern times by the 1958 constitution of the French republic, which stated, in its Article 2, that “The national emblem shall be the blue, white and red tricolour flag.”

The bilateral relations between France and Thailand since 2016

In 2016 and 2019, France and Thailand celebrated successively the 160th anniversary of their relations (the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce between Siam and France was signed on 15 August 1856), and the 333rd anniversary of the first embassy of the Kingdom of Siam to France, led by Kosa Pan in 1686.

In order to celebrate the longstanding friendship between the two countries a permanent exhibition was inaugurated in February 2022 on the outside wall of the diplomatic compound of the French Embassy in Bangkok.

In 2018 Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visited France twice. On June 25 his meeting with President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace marked the beginning of THEOS 2 program, the second Thai satellite made in France. On November 11, the Prime Minister visited Paris for the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War (Siamese troops marched through the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in a victory celebration after the end of World War I, on 14 July, 1919) and the first edition of the Paris Peace Forum.

The friendship between France and Thailand was also illustrated during the dark period of the Covid-19 pandemic. France donated more than 4.2 million doses of vaccines to Thailand, a clear sign of the solidarity and the close bound existing between the two countries during this difficult period.

A major step in the development of the relations between France and Thailand was reached on 22 February 2022 with the signature in Paris by the two foreign ministers of the “Roadmap for France-Thailand bilateral relations 2022-2024”.

Both countries committed themselves to promote concrete projects in four main areas: security and defense, economy, human exchanges, and global issues, in order to upgrade their bilateral relation to the level of a strategic partnership.

The roadmap was rapidly implemented, notably in the sector of transports in which several agreements were signed between 2021 and 2023.

Defense and military cooperation has also been developing. The First Franco-Thai Joint Defense Committee took place in Bangkok on March 17-18, 2022.

President Emmanuel Macron’s official visit in Bangkok from 16 to 18 November 2022 was a major milestone in the history the franco-thai relations. Welcomed as Guest of the Chair to the APEC summit by Prime Minister Prayut o-cha, President Macron was the first European head of state or government to be invited to the APEC Summit, since the creation of the forum in 1989.

While this visit marked an important step in the development of the French Indopacific strategy, it also highlighted the growing importance France attaches to ASEAN countries, in particular to Thailand.

In 2022 HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn graced with her presence at the French Residence in Bangkok the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Societé des Membres de la Légion d’Honneur (SMLH). From 12 to 19 May 2023 she made an official visit to France (Lyon and Paris) at the occasion of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Princess Galyani Vadhana, founder of the Thai Association of French Teachers (ATPF).

In order to further deepen the bilateral relation between our two countries and to renew its content, 2023 was proclaimed by the two Governments, “France-Thailand Year of Innovation » (YOI).

This initiative was the occasion to showcase and promote the vibrant cooperation between France and Thailand in innovative and forward-looking sectors like air and space industry, bio-circular and green economy, healthcare, food industry and wellness, and cultural industries. The creation of a joint Franco-Thai platform for innovation will help create or strengthen long-term partnerships between researchers, companies, and start-ups from both countries.

These last few years, the French network in Thailand has been expanding. Five French schools are now established in the Kingdom, respectively in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, and Ko Samui. A new school will be opened in Chiang Mai. In 2021 the Alliance Française (French cultural institutes) of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phuket emancipated from the Alliance Française in Bangkok, which celebrated 110 years of existence in 2022.

The French Embassy has been pursuing an ambitious program of cultural events as shown by the launch in 2021 of the new Franco-Thai Animation Film festival and the development of its flagship artistic event « Galleries’ Nights » which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2023 and is now organized not only in Bangkok but also in Bang Saen.

Milestones exhibitions have also been organized like TranceFiguration about sacred tattoos which took place in 2022 in partnership with the Ecole Française d’Extrême Orient (EFEO) and the Alliance Française, in Chiang Mai. The exhibition was presented in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and at the National Gallery in Bangkok.

In 2023, to better embrace and promote the wide range of activities of its cultural and cooperation department, the French Embassy also coined a new brand, “Sawasdee France” with the motto « Where France and Thailand meet ».

This new brand which replaces former concepts like “La Fête”, is meant to be a new bridge between France and Thailand in order to better communicate about the whole range of activities organized by the French Embassy in Thailand especially cultural events and initiatives to promote the French language, develop education partnerships, the mobility of students and researchers and foster cooperation on global subjects like health, the fight against climate change, and the protection of environment and biodiversity.