le 14 juillet

A crowd of people watch as men and women on horses pass by during a ceremony.

The 14th of July is a national holiday in France, often called la “fête nationale” or simply “le 14 juillet.” In English, we call in Bastille Day, and it is named for a major event during the French Revolution in 1789. As a French Overseas Territory, this holiday is also celebrated in French Polynesia. These islands, including the Marquesas, were colonized by the French, so parades and events held here to celebrate France’s national day bring out complex–and sometimes clashing–cultural layers.


A crowd of children wave France flags during a parade/celebration.
Photo by Eric Guth

In this photo, Kimi Teikiteetini, who is both a guide and a firefighter, “inspects” this group of school children with their handmade French flags. The Marquesas also have their own flag.


A woman wears a flower crown made up of red flowers.
Photo by Eric Guth

We attended a parade in Taiohae on Nuku Hiva and asked permission to take close ups of some of the most beautiful flowers.


A woman's legs are covered in traditional Marquesian tattoos.
Photo by Eric Guth

Traditional Marquesan tattoo, called Patutiki, blends with a Tahitian style dress in the foreground of this photograph. In the background, French officials salute each other and the flag. Everywhere during this celebration, French and Polynesian symbols mixed together. Polynesia is a huge area which contains a great deal of diversity in culture, language, music, symbology, and daily life.

The Marquesas are a distinct area, both culturally and geographically, within the larger South Pacific context.


A woman in a yellow dress walks by a truck that is covered in local flowers.
Photo by Eric Guth


A woman stands by a pig, and wears local plants in her hair.
Photo by Eric Guth


Children surround a ship's captain while waving French flags and cheering.
Photo by Eric Guth

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