Celebrating France's First Steps Toward Democracy:
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 2012 Events:
Find Out More About Bastille Day And Its History:
How to Celebrate Bastille Day Elsewhere in the World:
Pictures of Bastille Day, Past and Present:
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.