Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

Edited by Anna Popper

To celebrate the French national holiday, also known as Bastille Daya grand reception was held in the sunny gardens of the French residence in Budapest on the 14th July. 

The event was hosted by H.E. Mme Claire Legras, Ambassador of the Republic of France to Hungary, and brought together almost 600 personalities from very diverse backgrounds from the political world, civil society, business and university circles, artists, journalists and intellectuals, who shared this moment of conviviality dedicated to Franco-Hungarian friendship, through their informal conversations, discussions in a relaxed atmosphere.

After the national anthems of France and Hungary were performed by the Orchestra of Hungarian Army, 

Ambassador Legras greeted the audience and the Guests of Honour: Mr. Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Minister of Defence and Mr. János Bóka, Secretary of State, soon to become Minister for European Affairs, and impressed the attendees with her excellent Hungarian language skills, even though she had only been in office for nine months, and expressed hope to further improve her Hungarian knowledge in the coming year. But she recalled the words of Pope Francis: the Hungarian language is the language of heaven because it takes an eternity to learn.

She also welcomed Mr. Jean-Marc BerthonAmbassador for the Rights of LGBT+ Persons in France, representing the French government. His visit took place on the occasion of the 28th Budapest Pride Festival and he participated in the march held on the 15th July together with the representatives of 49 embassies and cultural institutes in Hungary, according to a joint statement by the signatories.

In her remarks on the festive occasion, Ambassador Claire Legras praised the longstanding excellent and multifaceted relations between France and Hungary, emphasizing the military aspect of their history. She also referred to the presence of Hungarian musicians from the Hungarian Army Orchestra during the July 14 parade on the Champs-Élysées, marching as members of the multinational orchestra.

Ambassador Legras also highlighted the positive experiences during her tenure, including meetings with people who leave the deepest mark, with children in schools, French entrepreneurs working in Hungary, the highly professional contacts in the Hungarian administration, universities, the rich and vibrant cultural life and sporting spheres, as France prepares to host the next Summer Olympic Games 2024 in Paris.

Regarding the cultural ties, she mentioned a notable exhibition at the Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts, presenting rarely seen works of one of the most original figures to emerge in European art, the famous French artist Judit Reigl, dedicated to the centenary of her birth, who emigrated from Hungary to Paris after the WWII and left a remarkable and unique oeuvre to posterity.

After the very successful exhibitions of Cézanne and Matisse, another great French artist will feature in Budapest as part of a cultural cooperation: the Museum of Fine Arts in conjunction with the Parisian Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie will organise a large-scale monographic exhibition of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s art with his figural depictions at its focus between 22 September 2023 – 7 January 2024.

She also noted that the renovation of the 146-year-old Nyugati Railway Station in Budapest will be completed this autumn, preserving its historical value and prominent role in railway traffic. This iconic building was designed by Gustave Eiffel and inaugurated in 1877. This year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of this great French architect, known throughout the world for the Eiffel Tower.

“It is a privilege to serve in Hungary and I value it” – the Ambassador said.

Concluding, she conveyed sincere gratitude to the sponsors for their generous support, without whose help the reception would not have been possible.

She announced an event for the next day, the traditional Bal de rue (Street Ball) at the French Institute with lots of music, dance, games, creativity and fun, while celebrating 14 Juillet, which is very popular among Hungarians.

In his speech, Mr. Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Minister of Defence expressed gratitude to Ambassador Claire Legras for the invitation to celebrate France’s National Day together in French, which he had learned while studying in Paris. He acknowledged the historical connections between Hungary and France at various points for centuries and influenced each other, enriching the past and culture of the two nations.

He specifically mentioned the close and active cooperation between the Hungarian MH 34th László Bercsényi Special Operations Battalion and the French Parachute Hussar Regiment, named after László Bercsényi, a historical figure of Hungarian origin in the 18th century who earned the honour of becoming Maréchal de France (Marshal of France), a title of great distinction for his military prowess. Adopting his name is a symbolic gesture, recognizing the historical links and mutual respect between the two nations.

The minister also stated that the current relationship of the two countries is exemplary, even if we do not see everything the same way, but agree on many issues and work together in a fruitful partnership in military affairs – such as the importance of stability in the Sahel region, or our increasingly strong defence industry cooperation, the latest result of which, the Airbus H225M helicopters, will soon be welcomed on Hungarian soil. “Long live France!”

After the official part, the celebration continued in a pleasant and friendly vibe, enjoying the excellent specialties of French cuisine offered by various caterers, including French champagne, wines and a wide selection of cheeses, not forgetting the macaron, all belonging to the culinary legacy of France, which contribute significantly to the reputation of French gastronomy around the world.

Source: Embassy of France in Budapest

Photos by DPA and Facebook of the Embassy of France