Celebrating France's First Steps Toward Democracy:
Every July 14th, Paris celebrates Bastille Day (referred to as La Fête de la Bastille or La Fête Nationale in French), which marks the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 and the first major event of the French Revolution of 1789.
The destruction of the Bastille prison in central Paris was chosen as a symbol of France's first stirrings of democracy, though it would take several reinstated monarchies and bloody revolutions to establish an enduring Republic. Similar in spirit to American Independence Day or Canada Day, Bastille Day is a festive event that splashes fireworks and patriotic processions across Paris.
Bastille Day 2014 Events:
For a comprehensive guide to 2014 Bastille Day events and special offers, consult this page on the city's official website.
Find Out More About Bastille Day And Its History:
Read About.com French Language Guide Laura K. Lawless' concise and useful guide to the French holiday.
How to Celebrate Bastille Day Elsewhere in the World:
About.com France Travel has some great tips for celebrating Bastille Day outside of France.
Pictures of Bastille Day, Past and Present:
Want to get a more visual sense of how Bastille Day celebrations and ceremonies unfold? Check out these pictures of Bastille Day to see images from as far back as the original storming of the Bastille in 1789.
Traditional Bastille Day Activities:
Fireworks are almost always on the menu in Paris Bastille Day celebrations, and usually light up the skies at around nightfall. Often launched in the vicinity of the Eiffel Tower, the Saint Germain des Près district, and around Montparnasse, fireworks displays can be enjoyed from other spots around the city, providing you are high up enough to get a good vantage. Some suggested spots are the viewpoint from the roof of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Montmartre, or Belleville.
The Bal du 14 juillet is a giant dance party traditionally held on the Place de la Bastille (where the stormed prison once stood)on the evening before Bastille Day (July 13th). A different theme is chosen each year, usually providing an opportunity to don elaborate costumes and hear live music.
A traditional military parade on the Champs-Elysées starts near the Arc de Triomphe on the famed Avenue on the afternoon of July 14th and spreads across Paris. A moving tribute, or pomp and circumstance? A matter of taste.
- Firemens' Galas: France has a unique-- and quirky-- tradition of firehouses opening their doors to the general public on July 13th and 14th for the occasion of Bastille day, offering live demonstrations and dancing. Kitschy fun guaranteed. Donations are generally asked for at the door.