Celebrate Bastille Day in Asheville, NC

A view from the Chateau in Saumur. | Photo courtesy of Sergey Ashmarin

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Ah, Saumur, France. Home of the Chateau de Saumur, excellent wine, and believe it or not, one of Asheville’s 7 sister cities.

In honor of Bastille Day, a July 14 holiday that celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution, we’re diving into Asheville’s 25-year relationship with Saumur, and how you can celebrate this special holiday among local francophiles right here in the 828.

But first, what’s a sister city?

  • It’s a broad-based, long-term partnership between 2 communities in 2 countries. A relationship is officially recognized after the highest elected or appointed official from both communities sign off on an agreement to become sister cities. The goal of the relationship is to promote international awareness, cultural knowledge + peace through global friendship.

A Saumur streetscape. | Photo courtesy of Asheville Sister Cities

Fun facts about Saumur:

  • It’s the birthplace of fashion icon Coco Chanel.
  • The population is approx. 27,000.
  • It’s well known for its beautiful centuries-old homes and churches, fine wines + mushroom caves.
  • The town is perched on the banks of the Loire River in the Loire River Valley.

A few highlights of Asheville’s relationship with Saumur:

  • Asheville officially gained Saumur as a sister city in 1996.
  • In 1999 and 2000, Asheville participated in Saumur’s Jeanne d’Arc International Basketball Tournament.
  • There’s a formal exchange program agreement between UNC Asheville and the Université Catholique de l’Ouest (UCO) near Saumur. And in 2019, UNCA student Diana Casillas was invited by the Mayor to do an internship at the Chateau de Saumur.
  • In February 2020, Asheville households + local high schools hosted 32 high school students from France for 2 weeks.
  • Asheville has sent several delegations to Saumur over the past 2 decades, including 25 folks in 2017 who attended the Anjou Velo Vintage Festival.

A directional sign located in Saumur. Donate here to help build a similar version in Asheville. | Photo courtesy of Asheville Sister Cities

Asheville’s Bastille Day Celebration

As a way to keep folks connected and raise money for the Sister Cities program, Bastille Day is celebrated annually in Asheville. Here are the deets on this year’s celebration:

  • When: Wed., July 14, 4-7 p.m
  • Where: AB-Tech’s Smith-McDowell House (283 Victoria Rd.)
  • Tickets cost $10 for members, $15 for non-members + come with a complimentary glass of wine
  • Live music from Albi & the Lifters, plus a performance from Elliott Hove
  • Lawn games, food, beverages + a raffle


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