Summer’s here and once again, it’s that time of year for picnics, pomp and ceremony and Presidential holidays in the US. However, while American Independence Day on the fourth of July is a bells and whistles extravaganza of epic proportions, across the channel, the French are already gearing up for their own day of national pride - Bastille Day or La Fête Nationale on 14 July. But being the sophisticated nation that France is, you’ll be surprised to discover that its people are no more understated in their celebrations!
Bastille Day commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. This anniversary was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and began the French Revolution. Fantastic fireworks, impressive parades and wild parties are held all over France, but without a doubt, the best place to go to really get into the spirit of things is the capital, Paris.
If you’re planning a Paris city break on Bastille Day, you can watch the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe, on the Champs-Élysées avenue, in front of the President, French officials and foreign guests. It’s a feisty affair of fireworks and military flyovers above the Eiffel Tower – and certainly one to watch if you’re a fan of France – as you can’t escape the red, white and blue tricolour flag – on shops, the tower and painted on peoples’ faces across the city!
Much like American Independence Day, Bastille Day is a bank holiday throughout France and most people eat a celebratory meal or picnic with family and friends. Why not take in the main fireworks display from Place de la Concorde? This large square looks towards the Eiffel Tower, making it a great spot to watch the celebrations. Place de la Concorde is one of the best places in the city to enjoy free entertainment, from musicians and dancers to more unusual street entertainers, and these are sure to be out in force on Bastille Day.