Whether you call it Le Quatorze Juillet or La Fête Nationale, Bastille Day celebrations are a big deal in Paris and throughout France. According to our sources, the military parade on Avenue Champs-Elysées will be going forward aprés-Covid. The parade starts at the Arc de Triomphe and ends at Place de la Concorde.
In other good news, we've also learned that the annual Eiffel Tower fireworks and free concert will both take place this year commencing at 11 PM. The best place to catch the events is from a boat on the Seine River — luckily there's a 9 PM dinner cruise which affords you not only the best views of the fireworks but a classic French dinner as well. Book now, as this will sell out very soon. Let's take a look at the complete list of the festivities.
This is where you want to be the evening of Bastille Day, the most important French holiday of the year. At the banks of the Seine you'll board the specially-designed, glass-walled dinner boat and spend the next few hours indulging in French food and wine along with live music and dancing. Yes, the romantic spirit of Paris does inspire some impromptu dancing! Be sure to select July 14 as your sailing date.
The riverboat company Paris Seine is well known for its dinner cruises, and has a fleet of glass-walled boats to give diners the best nighttime views. Book this 9 PM cruise and you'll be in the prime position to view the dazzling Eiffel Tower fireworks when they commence at 11 PM. Sure, you'll also enjoy an equally dazzling classic 3-course French dinner with champagne and wine as you drift past the best of Paris landmarks, but we bet it's the fireworks you're going to remember for years to come. Vive la France!
There's no better way to celebrate Bastille Day in Paris than a dinner cruise on the Seine. Sip French wines and dine on French classics in a festive atmosphere, while you drift past historic monuments and museums like Notre Dame, the Louvre, and Musée d'Orsay. After the cruise, you can either be whisked back to your hotel or stay near the Seine to see the incredible fireworks show emanating from the Eiffel Tower. Book now as it will sell out.
Even though the French Revolution, which began on July 14, 1789, eventually ended the monarchy, a good way to celebrate the enduring legacy of the French kings and queens is a skip-the-line visit to Versailles on Bastille Day. Take in the majesty of the gardens and the chateaux that ultimately were the downfall French royalty. This full-day tour includes a classic French lunch and round-trip transportation from your Paris address.
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On July 14, 2021, a spectacular fireworks display will be set off from the Eiffel Tower. The best place to see the display is from the Champ 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 in either direction from Trocadéro. (Last time we viewed it from the quay along the Seine just downstream from the Bir Hakeim bridge, where we took the photo.)
The festivities start at around 9:00 PM as people gather in the Champ de Mars for an outdoor music concert. The fireworks start at around 11 PM and last about 35 minutes.
For one of the best unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower fireworks head to Parc de Belleville way out in the 20th Arrondissement. You'll overlook the entire city with a fantastic long view of the fireworks. As an added bonus you'll avoid the crowds and experience a different side of Paris.
Sacre Coeur in Montmartre is another unusual place to go for some of the best views of the glittering fireworks show. You're on a hill, overlooking the city of Paris for a spectacular angle for the fireworks.
The Champ de Mars, the large expanse of green lawn that extends from Eiffel Tower to the École Militaire, is a popular place to gather to see the fireworks display. (Photo above.) As it's a big space it can hold the crowds, but we suggest you arrive early to get your spot. Add bonus — a free concert will be performed by the Orchestre National de France, sponsored by Radio France. The concert starts at 9:15 followed by the fireworks at 11 PM.
Cross the river to the Trocadero esplanade for stunning views of the fireworks. Again, this is a popular destination so arrive early.
The bridges of Paris are great places to get unusual views of the Eiffel Tower Bastille Day fireworks. Best options include Pont des Arts, Pont de la Concorde, and Pont Alexandre III. Remember, you won't be the only one who has thought of this option — arrive early.
Once again open to the public, the rooftop of the Grande Arche out at La Défense is a spectacular place to admire the fireworks. You'll be high above ground — 100 meters to be exact — viewing the dazzling Bastille Day fireworks in the distance.
Tour Montparnasse may seem like an unusual place to view the fireworks, but the effect is spectacular. You'll have a stunning 360° view of Paris at night.
Or, you could tuck yourself into a luxurious bar, restaurant, or terrasse and sip a glass of champagne while the fireworks show excites your other senses. Hotel Raphael has a hidden terrace with a direct view of Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. The Terrass Hotel in Montmartre has a breathtaking view and offers a Fireworks Special Menu. On the 34th floor of the Le Méridien Étoile is the bar, with panoramic views towards the Eiffel Tower.
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 —
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, often with long lines. On 2021 we expect there will be some attention paid to crowd size, so check with your local fire station.
Bastille Day Firemen's Balls in Paris —
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.
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Despite the fact that it's the biggest French holiday of the year many Paris museums and monuments are open on Bastille Day. In fact, the Louvre is not only open on Bastille Day, but admission is free to all! Given the crowds will gathering to see the parade, this might be the best day of the year to visit the Louvre. Also open on Bastille Day are Musée d'Orsay and Chateau de Versailles.
The spectacular summer sales at the grands magasins will be in full swing in July. Unlike other major French holidays, department stores will be open — including Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, Le Bon Marché, BHV, Carrousel du Louvre, and Printemps.
Most restaurants will be open but we advise you to make a reservation just to be certain. Most food stores and other similar services will be open. Expect all government offices, banks, and some other museums to be closed.
A lot of people will be out celebrating on Bastille Day, so taxis will be impossible to get in the evening along the Seine, the Champs-Elysées, and anywhere around the Eiffel Tower. The Metro and RER will be operating, although stations around the Champs-Elysées and the Eiffel Tower will be closed at night — including Passy, Dupleix, Passy, Ecole Militaire, Iéna, Trocadéro, and La Motte-Piquet-Grenelle.
Although there was a huge party held a year after the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, Le Quatorze Juillet wasn't established as a French national holiday until 1880.
"Bastille" is derived from "Bastide", a French word meaning stronghold. And, in fact, there was a fortress on the site of Place de la Bastille from the 14th century. A later fortress built here was eventually turned into a prison.
When the Bastille prison was stormed in 1789, the mob find many prisoners. In the event there were only seven people in captivity. The most famous of those was the Marquis de Sade.
When Louis XVI learned about the attack on the Bastille, he asked, "Is it a revolt?" His minister answered, "No my sovereign, it is a revolution."
The military parade held in Paris on Bastille Day is the largest and oldest such parade in Europe with dozens of horses, 30 helicopters, 50 planes, 200 military vehicles, and 3,500 soldiers.
If you want to sound like a vrai Parisien, don't call it "Bastille Day". Instead, opt for La Fête Nationale or Le Quatorze Juillet.
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