Every year, France has many public holidays but the biggest and most important holiday is Bastille Day, or le quatorze juillet in French. This national holiday celebrates the storming of the Bastille, an old fortress used as a prison in the 17th and 18th centuries. The French population was fed up with the monarchy and decided to storm the prison, marking a pivotal moment in the French Revolution. It was at this time that Napoleon was in power and the French motto liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) was born, so Bastille Day is a very patriotic celebration. If you’re in Paris or thinking about spending Bastille Day in Paris, have a read of these events that take place in the capital on this very important national holiday.
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The biggest event held on Bastille Day in Paris is the military parade on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It involves thousands of soldiers, vehicles, aircraft, and horses, and is attended by the French President and officials, as well as foreign guests. It is considered to be the oldest and largest parade in Europe. As the parade marches down the avenue, French jets fly overhead, leaving a train of blue, white and red streaks to create the French flag. The parade backdrop is the Arc de Triomphe, so it’s an incredible Bastille Day event to watch if you’re in Paris. It is also at this event you will hear the French national anthem, La Marseillaise.
Another very popular event on Bastille Day in Paris is the firework show held over the Eiffel Tower. This incredible show lasts around 30 minutes long and fills the sky with incredible colors, including the French flag colors. This is a great way to join in with Bastille Day celebrations, plus there are lots of street parties before and after the firework show for you to get involved in. Although, we’d like to give you a friendly warning that it gets incredibly busy!
Concert under the Eiffel Tower
Before the firework show, a concert is provided at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower. So if you love music and are wondering what to do on Bastille Day in Paris, this is for you! Two of the most prestigious French musical organizations come together to play a classical concert. It consists of the French National Orchestra and Choir and is known as the Concert de Paris (Paris Concert). In previous years, guests such as Johnny Hallyday and Jean-Michel Jarre performed.
The Bal de Pompiers (Fireman’s Ball) is a fantastic Bastille Day event held in Paris. Fire stations around the capital open their doors to the public and hold a party, filled with dancing, music, drinking and a lot of fun! This ball is a fundraiser for fire stations around the country and is an incredibly popular event.
Visit The Louvre for free
Paris is one of the most culturally rich cities in the world thanks to its large selection of museums and galleries. One of the best things about Bastille Day in Paris is the fact that some of these places, in particular the world-renowned museum The Louvre, offers free entry to the public. This is a wonderful opportunity to discover one of the most incredible museums in the world. Plus, if you’re wondering what to do on Bastille Day in Paris which isn’t as busy as the parade, many people say this is the best day of the year to visit The Louvre as it’s quiet compared to other days.
Celebrate in style
So there we have it, a list of some of the biggest Bastille Day celebrations held in Paris that you can discover and enjoy. It really is a wonderful national holiday that is worth taking part in if you’re in the city at this time. And next time you’re in your French class, you can tell your classmates all about how you celebrated Bastille Day in Paris.
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Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn.