What is Bastille day like in France?

The origins behind the French National Day

The French Republic national day has been celebrated each 14th of July since 1789. The government picked that special day, in remembrance of two major historical events: the storming of Bastille prison(hence ‘Bastille’ day!), during The french revolution, and the Federation celebration.

How it is celebrated today

If you are lucky enough to be in Paris at that time, expect a packed crowd, but do not miss out on this. The Military parade on Champs-Elysees is a highlight of Bastille day in France. 

You will see the President, the most prestigious army divisions, and most importantly, the acrobatic jets from ‘Patrouille de France’, shooting blue, white and red fumes in the sky!

Look-up at night for Fireworks!

Every little town will have a firework show, sometimes the day before on 13th of July. Go to any park or lake to experience ‘les feux d’artifice’. The glamorous pictures from the Eiffel tower depict the biggest show in Paris, with live music until late. If you want to witness this beauty, pack a picnic and arrive early!

‘Firefighter’s ball’

To fully immerse yourself in the French ambiance during National day, you can go to the local fire station to ‘Le bal des pompiers’. It is a popular ball dance, with live music, good food and lots of wine! Note that it often happens the day before as well.

Do’s and don’ts

How to celebrate it: follow the locals crowds to immerse yourself in the authentic ‘14 juillet’ experience

Food: try the local street food in small markets

Flags: you can shake a French flag, or paint your cheeks 

Colors: blue, white and red

Party: enjoy the local wine, but make sure you do not drink and drive afterwards 

Firecrackers: Small firecrackers are tolerated on that day, but accidents happen. Make sure you throw them in an empty and safe place, and that you do not cause noise disturbance. Watch out for cheeky teens who can be careless.

I am not in France, where to celebrate?

There are plenty of places to celebrate Bastille day outside France! Most French neighborhoods of major cities will have events going on. You can also check with your local French embassy, French people associations and groups.