Cities across France are going green today to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the Irish national holiday.
Somme capital Amiens was the first to start last night when the square in front of the railway station turned green as a homage to the 16th Irish Division which lost thousands of soldiers in the Battle of the Somme.
It is a local tradition that Place Alphonse Fiquet and the Hotel de Ville change colour on special days and last month the LED lights turned red for St Valentine’s.
The Irish Embassy had asked Amiens Métropole to join in on the Saint Patrick festivity which last night saw the Sacré-Coeur in Paris joining in and going green along with Galleries Lafayette Haussmann and Le Petit Palais.
Aside from the First World War fighting, the link between Amiens and Ireland is tenuous but there is an Amiens Street in Dublin – named for the Irish peer, Viscount Amiens, Earl of Aldborough, who was said to have used the Amiens name in a boastful nod to his Norman heritage.
Where to celebrate in France?
If your city is not turning green you can turn into the local Irish bar while, in Rennes, you can join the celebrations in ‘Rue de la Soif’ (originally Rue Saint-Michel) with a full Irish atmosphere.
Meanwhile, in Disneyland Paris Mickey and Minnie will be singing and dancing to Irish tunes, alongside a few other Irish spectacles.
Did you know?
France and Ireland have history – did you know…
• St Patrick lived on the Riviera, studying religion on Ile Saint Honorat in the bay at Cannes for around two years
• The colours of the Irish flag colors date to 1848, when French women gifted a leader of an Irish rebel group a tricolor scarf made of French silk.
• French is the most common second language taught in Ireland
• The Irish cultural centre in Paris is Europe’s biggest Irish cultural centre
• The French and the Irish have had military links since 1689
• When General De Gaulle resigned in 1969 after losing a referendum in the wake of the 1968 student riots he licked his wounds in Ireland, staying in Kerry and Connemara for six weeks
• Irish writer of “Waiting for Godot”, Samuel Beckett, was one of the most important supporters of the French Revolution