In July, we celebrate the independence of two great nations—the United States, on the 4th; and France, on July 14th, the day the French people stormed the Bastille prison and sparked the French revolution. What better time to consider all the reason I love all things French? In July, we celebrate the independence of two great nations—the United States, on the 4th; and France, on July 14th, the day the French people stormed the Bastille prison and sparked the French revolution. What better time to consider all the reason I love all things French? Perhaps it started during the two years I lived on Lafayette Street in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. The Marquis de Lafayette served in the colonial army with distinction, even though he was still a teenager in 1776. In high school, I was surrounded by French Canadian culture. Later, my son camped out at Shakespeare and Company, across from Notre Dame, for the short time he lived in Paris. Here are a few reasons why I love France. If I fail to mention your favorite memory of France (the wine, perhaps?), take no offense. This is a personal list that I hope will trigger happy memories for you. Fictional HeroesAlthough these characters are fictional, they taught me a lot about French history.Charles Dicken’s Paris (A Tale of Two Cities) provided one of my favorite quotes. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I’ll never forget Madame Defarge’s knitting needles and Sidney Carlton’s self-sacrifice in this tale of the French revolution. LeClerc, the spunky Frenchman on Hogan’s Heroes, introduced me to the lure of the French accent. Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise, from France, once compared our countries’ flags: “America’s flag is red, white, and blue. The French flag is, more properly, blue, white, and red.I first encountered Versailles in the pages of The Three Musketeers and swooned to Richard Chamberlain as The Count of Monte Cristo. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, movie and film, brought that magnificent cathedral—and the concept of sanctuary—to poignant life. Paris, home in exileLet’s not forget the American novelists who lived France in the 1920s—Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Kathryn Mansfield, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and John dos Passos, among others. Interesting how many of America’s best-known writers did their best writing away from home.Consider the books written during their exile: A Farewell to Arms (Hemingway), Ethan Frome (Wharton), The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)—my literary world would be a lot poorer without the Americans living in ParisImpressionismThe impressionist movement in art and music began in France. I’ve spent time enjoying the works of Debussy, Ravel, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, and Degas. Even Vincent Van Gogh might be considered French, since he moved there from his native Holland. It’s hard to imagine a museum without one of Degas’ ballerinas or Monet’s water lilies. I personally engage with impressionist music by performing it. My senior piano recital included two compositions from Debussy’s “Estampes”: Gardens in the Rain and Evenings in Granada. The music paints a picture without words or color. And I’m always spellbound by Ravel’s Bolero.Scientists and ThinkersA children’s book introduced me to Louis Pasteur and Madame Curie were among the celebrated scientists. Pasteur not only developed the process whereby we “pasteurize” milk but also developed the first treatment for anthrax. The Curies discovered the wonders of radium and opened the field of radiology.More recently, how about oceanographer Jacques Cousteau? He made the ocean accessible to the world. I can’t leave this section without mentioned Rene Descartes, who told us, “It is not enough to have a good mind; the main t hing is to use it well,” and “I think; therefore I am.”Food and LanguageNo homage to France would be complete without mentioning food and language. I’m not talking about fancy French cuisine. Beef “au jus” makes my mouth water. Omelet, quiche, souffle, and crepes are all improvements over scrambled eggs. What salad is complete without croutons? Acroissant is so much tastier than a slice of white bread. Sweets are my special downfall: eclairs, sorbets, petit fours, bon bons, crème brulee, macarons. Is everyone else hungry by now?The language I love would be incomplete without the French. They ruled England for several hundred years, so it’s no surprise we share a lot of words, even if we pronounce t hem differently. French continues to enrich the English language: chic, mystique, a la carte, cliché, carte blanche, bon voyage, R.S.V.P. (respondez-vous sil vou plais) Of all the reasons I love France, one stands above them all: the Statue of Liberty, their gift to America. Vive la France!Darlene Franklin continues to write from her home in a nursing home. You can find her online at www.facebook.com/Poet.Darlene.Franklin/.