France scales back Bastille Day embassy parties
15 July 2008
PARIS – France’s Bastille Day parties in embassies worldwide on Monday are by invitation-only this year due to budget constraints, marking a break from the past when the fete was open to all French expatriates.
With the world’s second largest network of embassies after the United States, the French foreign ministry this year decided to scale back national day receptions as a cost-cutting measure.
Ambassadors were told "to think about cutting those costs and that reducing the number of guests was a way of reducing costs," said foreign ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier last week.
While the spokesman said no French citizen would be turned away, many embassy websites announced this year’s festivities would be by invitation-only. France has an estimated 2.2 million nationals living overseas.
France’s ambassador to Japan, Philippe Faure, sounded apologetic, writing that he was "informed of the decision to significantly reduce the budget for all of our embassies in the world for the national day festivities".
As a result, only "the main representatives of the French community" will be invited to the Tokyo embassy party, said Faure, adding that he was "aware that this announcement could be upsetting for some of you".
The ambassador to China, Herve Ladsous, said that due to the budget constraints "it will be impossible, as everyone will understand, to maintain the same format for the receptions".
Ladsous expressed hope that the decision will be reversed, writing that he would pleased to "renew with a tradition that has been dear to me".
Some ambassadors have written personally to expatriates to inform them of the decision and to explain why they can’t come to the party.
In Canada, the ambassador decided to invite all of the French provided they pick up a special invitation at the embassy in Ottawa.
France has some 158 embassies worldwide and some 20 consulates and offices.
[AFP / Expatica]