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How 4 St. Louis French Organizations Come Together To Celebrate Bastille Day

Colin Faulkingham
Wikimedia Commons
The statue of King Louis IX, the namesake of the City of St. Louis, has stood atop Art Hill in Forest Park since 1906.
Evie Hemphill
Isabelle Heidbreder has lived in St. Louis for 22 years. She's the executive director of Alliance Française de St. Louis.

A walk around St. Louis is a subtle reminder of how the French have influenced the city. Street names such as Laclede and Chouteau refer to fur trader Pierre Laclède and his stepson Auguste Chouteau, who constructed a trading post here in 1764. They named it St. Louis after Louis IX, a 13th-century French king who achieved sainthood in 1297.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Rod Milam talked with Isabelle Heidbreder, the executive director of Alliance Française de St. Louis. The nonprofit helps foster an appreciation for French language and culture.

Heidbreder’s organization is one of four regional French organizations that will celebrate the national day of France locally, held annually on July 14. The day is commonly referred to as Bastille Day in English-speaking countries.

In France, people take the day off from work, watch a military parade on the Champs-Élysées and view fireworks at night.

Virginia Harold
Nezka Pfeiffer sets up artworks as part of the Missouri Botanical Garden's newest exhibit.

In St. Louis, the organizations are celebrating the occasion with a dinner. Along with Alliance Française de St. Louis, members of the Société Française de St. Louis, St. Louis-Lyon Sister Cities and Les Amis will be in attendance.

“We are very proud to have the four main French organizations in St. Louis getting together for this, because we all work together and we all have very different goals,” Heidbreder said.

“It is open to the St. Louis population at large. We are not exclusive at all. And it’s been part of my goal to break down that barrier that French people are snobbish people, oh là là type of people. We like to have a great time, and we’d love to invite everybody who would love to celebrate that holiday for us.”

MoBot Exhibit Explores How Missouri Saved French Wine

The interview included St. Louisans and their pronunciations of French street names and places around town.

Later in the show, Milam talked with Nezka Pfeifer, the curator of the Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum at the Missouri Botanical Garden. After being closed for more than a year, the museum has a new exhibit, “Grafting the Grape: American Grapevine Rootstock in Missouri and the World.”

Among other things, the exhibit explores how Missouri plants helped save the French wine industry in the late 19th century.

Related Event

What: Grafting the Grape: American Grapevine Rootstock in Missouri and the World
When: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday throughout this summer
Where: Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis 63110)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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