Join Frenchmen and Francophiles around the world in celebrating the mid-summer holiday of Bastille Day, an independence day for millions.
Every July 14th, the French celebrate liberté, egalité et fraternité by commemorating the anniversary of the 1789 storming of the Bastille prison – an act of political rebellion that ignited the French Revolution. While the Revolution is often remembered for headless monarchs, this Saturday's Bastille Day festivities are incredibly jovial and the only things that roll are pétanque balls.
In Paris, it's a day for Vive La France
For anyone fortunate enough to be in France on July 14th: Paris is the heart of Bastille Day festivities. Families can plan to see parades, concerts and fireworks all in the same day, at little or no charge.
The celebration in the City of Light begins in the morning with a prestigious military parade down the Champs-Élysées. Be sure to get there early to secure yourself a spot and see the entire military in full regalia march by the French president. The highlight of this esteemed procession is without question the planes that shadow the parade with their trails of tricolor smoke.
After the parade, make your way over to the Champ de Mars park in front of the Eiffel Tower to guarantee a good position to see the evening’s free concert. Be sure to arrive early with a blanket and snacks because the park will be completely filled by mid-afternoon.
Following the concert, everyone in attendance is treated to a one-of-a-kind fireworks show that features choreographed lights, lasers, and fireworks that are projected from all corners of the Eiffel Tower.
Bastille Day for Displaced Francophiles
You don’t have to be in France to celebrate Bastille Day. Considering America’s long-standing relationship with the French, it is easy to see why so many American cities join the French in celebrating the 14th of July. Here are some of the largest civic street parties that offer families and kids of all ages a staycation with benefits: the chance to learn a little bit more about France and its history.
Bastille Day in New York, New York
For 11 years now, New Yorkers have been celebrating Bastille Day on 60th street between Fifth Avenue and Lexington Avenue with a 60th Street Fair that spans three blocks. Everyone is welcome to come stroll the streets around the Alliance Francaise Cultural Center, and sample the various foods and wines offered by vendors from all over France. In addition to French market stalls, there will be live music, mimes, face painting, pétanque, raffles and more. Bastille Day on 60th street will be held on Sunday, July 15, 2012. Meanwhile, on the 14th itself, the French Institute gets to ring the opening bell on Wall Street and then party at Van Vleck House and Gardens in Montclair, New Jersey.
Bastille Day in Santa Barbara, Calfornia
Every year the 20,000 Francophiles on the West Coast that visit the Santa Barbara French Festival are transported straight to the streets of la belle France with an array of French food, music, cabaret performances, mimes and jugglers. After a two-day blowout in 2010, there was no festival held for 2011. However, it returns this year on Saturday, July 14th ending the following day Sunday, July 15th. Stay tuned for 2013, when we hope this long-standing celebration continues. For more information, please call 805/564-PARIS.
Bastille Day in New Orleans, Louisiana
On Sunday, July 8, 2011 and on several days the following week, New Orleans will resurrect its French roots with the annual New Orleans Bastille Day Block Party. This year’s free festival celebrates the French holiday with an assortment of French-Cajun cuisine as well as a number of French-inspired, family-friendly games and activities. The 2012 events are held in various locations.
More Resources for Celebrations of Liberte
If you are not within driving distance of the listed festivals but are still looking to experience all of the the joi de vivre that comes with celebrating Bastille Day, ask the manager of your local French Restaurant or contact the nearest Alliance Française for more information.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.