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On July 14, 1789, a huge crowd of Parisians captured the Bastille fortress, forcing King Louis XVI’s troops to withdraw. Bastille Day is a French national holiday (akin to our 4th of July) celebrating the birth of the French republic and the end of royal rule. July is also the month of France’s largest sporting event: le Tour de France, a 2000-mile cross-country bicycle race.
Embassy of France: Just for Kids
Start your tour at the French embassy in Washington D.C. with an interview with the French ambassador, FranÃ§ois Bujon de l’Estang, and an audio clip of the French national anthem (both clicks found on left-hand side.) Then move on to explore the rest of the site with the circular menu in the middle of the page. Great clicks include France at a Glance (national motto is ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’), Life in France (“The French own the most pets in the world: 25% have least one cat and 38% have dogs”) and Art & Culture.
Official Site of the Eiffel Tower
The most well-known monument in all of Europe is Paris’ Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889 for the Universal Exhibition in celebration of the French Revolution, it features 1665 steps and has hosted 200 million visitors. Visit its official Web site for Facts & Figures and The Tower at Leisure, which includes: several 360 degree panoramic tours, a video gallery, postcards to send, three fun Flash games and a quiz sweepstakes with the opportunity to win two Eiffel Tower entrance tickets. Nice, but what about the airfare?
Oxfam: French Virtual Journey
Click on the topics on the left-hand menu to take a virtual “journey through France and experience the culture, cuisine and scenery of this beautiful and diverse country. Find out why France is world famous for its cooking, and learn how to make a CrÃªpe. Read about the biggest annual sporting event in the world, and see what the French like to do in their spare time.”
Tour de France in 80 Stages
Just for kids, colorful ZipZap is full of hidden treasures, such as crosswords and exercises, but is often confusing to navigate, with unexpected dead ends and circular links. But if you’re not in a hurry, just follow your mouse and see where it leads you. I thought the section on the development of the European Union (born in Paris in 1950) was particularly good.