Whether you call it Le Quatorze Juillet or La Fête Nationale, Bastille Day celebrations are a big deal in Paris and throughout France. On Avenue Champs-Elysées there's a military parade that is a high point of the national holiday celebrations. The parade starts at the Arc de Triomphe and ends on the Place de la Concorde.
In the evening, the city of Paris stages a massive free concert and the city's only fireworks show of the year. The concert takes place on the Champ de Mars right near at the base of the Eiffel tower. Let's take a look at the complete list of the festivities.
On Friday, July 14, 2017, a spectacular fireworks display will be set off from the Eiffel Tower. The best place to see the display is from the Champs de Mars at the base of the tower or the plaza at Trocadéro across the river. However, you can also watch the fireworks anywhere along the Seine River. (Last year we watched it from the quay along the Seine just downstream from the Bir Hakeim bridge.) The festivities start at around 9:00 pm as people gather in Champs de Mar for an outdoor music concert. The fireworks start at around 11 pm and last about 35 minutes.
Even better than being on the banks of the Seine is the view of the fireworks from a boat on the river. If you're going to be in Paris on July 14, try to book a dinner cruise, it's the perfect place to admire the event and you'll be away from the crowds.
This is our readers' favorite dinner cruise, featuring a 3-course classic French dinner with wine. We also like that it includes hotel pickup and return. But if you're going to book for the Bastille Day celebrations, do it far in advance!
The military parade has been held every July 14 since 1880. (As expected, though, there was no parade during the years of Nazi occupation during World War II.) It's a big deal and the event is broadcast on French television. If you want to get a glimpse of the President of France or secure a good place to see the parade make sure to arrive at least an hour before the start time.
Minute-by-minute description of the parade —
Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789. The French Revolution transformed France into a land of equality and democracy with the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Here's a very short synopsis of what happened in the following years —
The Bastille Day celebrations are another reason for family and friends to gather outdoors for a picnic. If you could peek into one of their picnic baskets you might find strawberries, a baguette or two, cheeses, smoked chicken, pastries, summer fruit, and perhaps a bottle of champagne. Many restaurants feature special Bastille Day menus and the parks are filled with locals playing pétanque.
The French adore their pompiers (firemen) and for good reason. Each year, on July 13 and 14, from 9 pm to 4 am, the fire stations of Paris welcome visitors in an open house celebration. There's dancing, drinking and plenty of merriment. It's a very popular event with sometimes long lines.
Bastille Day Firemen's Balls in Paris —
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