Every summer on July 14th France celebrates Bastille Day, the biggest national holiday of the year. If you’re traveling in Paris or France you’ll hear this day referred to as La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration), La Fête de la Bastille (Bastille Celebration) or simply le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July). However it’s called, all of the names refer to the French National Day, which commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution and marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14th 1789. The storming of the Bastille, which was a prison, became a symbol of the fight for freedom and liberty from the rule of absolute monarchy. Declared as the French National Day in 1880, the holiday represents the birth of the French Republic and modern France. Much like Independence Day on the 4th of July in America and Canada Day on July 1st, Bastille Day features patriotic events, parades and fireworks displays. Here’s a look at the fun things to do and what not to miss while celebrating Bastille Day in Paris!
Military Parade on the Champs-Élysées
One of the highlights of Bastille Day in Paris is the chance to see the impressive Military Parade on the Champs-Élysées. The parade begins at the Arc de Triomphe and passes down the grand Champs-Élysées to the Place de la Concorde where the President of the French Republic and important political and international figures will be in attendance. This parade has played an important role in French history, and has taken place nearly every year since 1880. The array of uniforms and regiments is an impressive sight, as are the mounted regiments, artillery units and the French Air Force flypasts. It’s an moving event to experience in person!
Things to Do in Paris on Bastille Day
If you’re looking for fun things to do on Bastille Day, keep in mind that nearly all of Paris’ museums stay open on this French holiday. And even better, the Louvre Museum will be FREE on Saturday, July 14th to celebrate Bastille Day. Take a break from the summer sunshine by exploring the outstanding collections at the world’s most famous museum. If you’re going for the first time, check out our blog post on Visiting the Louvre Museum for tips, links and ideas for organizing your time. Visit ParisInfo, the official website of the Paris Tourist Bureau, for more information and details on Bastille Day events and things to do in Paris.
Watching the Bastille Day Fireworks
The grand fireworks display for Bastille Day is the biggest of the year in Paris and is something you’ve simply got to see to believe! Crowds begin filling up the Champ de Mars gardens very early in the day to get a good spot, and some people even bring picnics for lunch and dinner. It a fun and lively atmosphere with music and entertainment starting in the evening leading up to the big event – a spectacular fireworks and light display around the Eiffel Tower. This year the show is set to begin around 10.45pm and lasts about a half an hour. Every year the music has a theme and this year’s is called “Disco years” and includes music from the 70s and 80s. It will be a blast!
If you can’t find a spot to squeeze into in the Champ de Mars, the huge fireworks display can be enjoyed from many spots in Paris. Another beautiful spot is on one of the bridges crossing the Seine near the Eiffel Tower. The color of the fireworks fills the night sky and dances across the water so beautifully!
Want to experience the awe of the Bastille Day fireworks in Paris without the crowds? Many of our Paris vacation rentals have outstanding views of the Eiffel Tower and the windows and balconies are fabulous spots to enjoy the magical show over the rooftops of Paris. Our romantic new Margaux vacation rental near the Eiffel Tower that we just introduced earlier this week on the Paris Perfect blog has a huge wrap around balcony with fabulous views. With room for a dining table, bistro tables and a comfy lounge area all on the balcony, you can plan a Bastille Day that your family and friends will never forget at the Margaux!
Of course there are many more Paris Perfect apartments with amazing close up views of the Eiffel Tower and front row seats to the Bastille Day fireworks display, including the darling Chablis studio rental or the elegant St. Emilion two bedroom apartment or outstanding full views of La Grande Dame from the Chateau Latour or the romantic balcony of our one bedroom Champagne vacation rental. If you’re planning a trip to Paris for Bastille Day, there are so many great views to choose from!
Happy Bastille Day from Paris Perfect!
Here’s a video of the Bastille Day fireworks display from 2011 to give you an idea of how amazing the display is each year. There’s nothing quite like the experience of seeing the show from close up in the Champ de Mars gardens or nearby, and we hope your travels will one day soon bring you to Paris to celebrate Bastille Day.
Have a wonderful and fun Bastille Day wherever you are celebrating!
Photo credits: Eiffel Tower with fireworks by Karen Corby, Arc de Triomphe by irene, Military Parade by Doc Searls, Louvre Museum by Oliver Mallich, Eiffel Tower fireworks collage by Karen Corby, Fireworks over Seine by Joshua Veitch-Michaelis,