How to celebrate Bastille Day in France

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Last year, I did research on my ancestry to find out where my family is from. This led me to France for a quick tour and I was captivated by its beauty. France holds a special place within my heart. But now, more than ever. Bastille Day is the best way to channel my French roots.

Bastille Day in France is huge, but it’s only known as Bastille Day outside France.

The holiday is sometimes called la Fete nationale in France. It commemorates the Storming of the Bastille, which took place on July 14, 1789. Most shops close for the day as it is a public holiday.

What is the day dedicated to?

This was the moment of the French Revolution that transformed Europe and the country as a whole. Today, the whole country gathers to celebrate the fall of the French monarchy.

Champs-Elysees Military Parade

The Avenue des Champs Elysees is one the most beautiful places to be in Paris, no matter the season. It really comes alive on Bastille Day. The Avenue des Champs Elysees is crowded early in the morning so that they can get a great view of the President walking by. After the parade, the patriotic Military Parade takes place. This is the ideal photo op, and the perfect way to start the day.

Take in a Firework Show

Bastille Day, though it is a different day, is very similar to America’s Independence Day. It’s actually the only time in the year Paris has a fireworks display. Paris hosts a free concert at Champ De Mars, right in front of Eiffel Tower. The fireworks begin at 11:15 pm.

For another stunning scene, they light up the Eiffel Tower.

Bastille Day is the ideal place to be in Versailles. A fireman’s dance is followed by an amazing show at 9 p.m. This year, fireworks will not be displayed directly in front the palace like in the past.

Instead, the Versailles Orangerie will host a display. Versailles, inspired by the extravagant soirees Louis XIV used put on, offers a fascinating glimpse back at French culture and history.

The Fireman’s Ball

I know it’s a joke, but the English translation is quite cheeky. In French, these celebrations go by the name Bals des Pompiers.

The fireman’s balls, in addition to fireworks are a common tradition. Bastille Day is celebrated in France by cities opening fire stations to visitors. This tradition began in 1937, when a group firemen opened their doors to curious locals.

They put on a show, and the tradition continues each and every year as fire departments demonstrate their gymnastic prowess while setting off small fireworks.

Keep it Simple a La Francaise

Many French prefer to celebrate with friends and family rather than fight the crowds. French people enjoy taking a day off from work to get together with their friends and have a picnic or BBQ (here’s how I know why I’m always up for a French picnic).

You want to be like the locals? This handy phonetic guide will help you learn the French national anthem.

Paris outside

Lyon

Lyon is at its best during the summer. Tout L’Monde Dehors, or “Everybody Outside”, is a series that takes place from June 21 through September 1, and features more than 200 outdoor events. For a spectacular view, fireworks are lit up over Fourviere Hill on the Bastille Day.

Marseille

The spectacular fireworks display at Marseille is a must-see for anyone visiting the south. The Vieux Port is a beautiful setting for the spectacular fireworks display over the Mediterranean Sea.

You should arrive early to witness the parade down Cours d’Estienne d’Orves. People dress up in traditional costumes, and dance to live music.

Carcassonne

Carcassonne, on the south coast of France is a must-see if you’re planning to continue. Their celebration is considered the best outside of Paris.

Bordeaux

Do you want to try some French wine? Arrive early if you are going to Bordeaux for la Fete Nationale! The main event is actually July 13th. It starts with a picnic at Parc Simone Signoret, and then goes on to the next day with a parade down Esplanade des Quinconces.

Bonne Fete Nationale

I hope you have as much fun as a local celebrating!

Tell me about any Bastille Day events that you are attending or attended in the past. Please leave all details below.

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