Santa Barbara




Santa Barbara's French Festival Celebrates Bastille Day in a Grand Way



french festival photos

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Saturday and Sunday, July 17, 18, 2010 (Bastille Day Weekend), from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Santa Barbara's Oak Park. Admission is free. Location: Grant Park,

France is closer than you think. Each year in Santa Barbara, French culture is celebrated, much as the French enjoy their Bastille Day events. Wine sipping, music, entertainment, and a beautiful setting that only Santa Barbara can provide make this city's French Festival our preference for paying homage to the cultural enhancements we can thank France for introducing into our lives. In the photos above provided by the organizers of this event, top left clockwise is Josephine; poodle with wine to celebrate the French Poodle Parade; boy on a bike waving two flags, the American and French flags, while his dad steers, feet kicked up in the air in glee; and a couple sipping French wines with French bread and fruits.

Sidewalk cafés with checkered tablecloths and umbrellas, artists with bérets, and pampered French poodles on parade. It must be Bastille Day in Santa Barbara! Music, laughter and nonstop free entertainment on three stages make this the event worthy of your attention and time.  8,000 miles away Parisians celebrate the French Revolution while the joie de vivre of France attracts over 20,000 people to the Annual French Festival in Santa Barbara on Bastille Weekend.


What's the connection between Santa Barbara and France? First, there are many French descendents living in the area. The weather and culture, wineries and farm-fresh produce enhance a healthy lifestyle the French are accustomed to, and find in Santa Barbara. Second, Santa Barbara likes to celebrate events in a big way. Seldom is anything done on small scale when it comes to festivities.


Additionally, Santa Barbara is called the Riviera of California, and event founder Steve Hoegerman says it's good to share that cross culture experience. He should know. The travel journalist, tour guide and creator of the French Festival  speaks four languages, leads groups on 14 day French vacations each fall, lectures on French travel, and speaks French himself.  Hoegerman met his wife in a bistro in the Latin quarter of Paris and returns each year to France, sharing the hidden spots American tourists seldom see. (Be sure to check out his Fall tours on  The prices seem quite reasonable for two weeks of travel, hotels and some meals.)

The Santa Barbara native has grown this festival into one of the largest festivals in the city, attracting well over 20,000 tourists and locals to the free event. Non-stop entertainment fills three stages, including cancan, Moroccan belly dancers, grand opera, hot jazz a la Django Reinhardt, the Femmes Fatales Drag Review, French Tahitian dance, African drumming and dance, and cabaret music in the tradition of Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, and Josephine Baker. Wandering mimes, jugglers, and accordion players perform throughout the crowds, enhancing the French cuisine ranging from crêpes to quiche,  café au lait to decadent desserts and pastries. Perrier, Kronenbourg French beer, wine, champagne, Calistoga and soft drinks are sold in addition to food vendors offering a variety of tasty sandwiches, pastries and meals.

Sunday afternoon is the famous Poodle Parade, a promenade of canine topiary under the Festival's huge Eiffel Tower. C'est magnifique!

Win a trip for two to Paris on Air France. The festival is sponsored by Perrier, TV5Monde, Contrex,, and Calistoga. The French Festival is Santa Barbara's first non-smoking festival!

For more information call 805-564-PARIS (805-564-7274), or go to


Where to stay? There aren't many deals during this time of year (July), and as of posting, only a few offer rates under $200/night. Hotel Mar Monte and The Sandman  fall into that category. Inn by the Harbor and Hotel Santa Barbara are over $200/night and prices rise from there.


Nearby options include a modest inventory of hotels in Goleta, but the greatest supply of hotel rooms approx. 27 miles away and a 30 minute drive are in Ventura/Oxnard region. You can save over $100 for comparable accommodations to the Santa Barbara hotels during this busy summer weekend in which the event is held, just one week after the popular 4th of July.