Bonne fête nationale! Bastille Day is the name given to the French National Day that commemorates the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. Celebrations are held throughout France with the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe held in the morning on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
The storming of the Bastille prison by angry crowds in 1789 may have been a violent day, but nowadays it’s marked peacefully by millions.
Whether you’re celebrating in Paris, or looking for ways to mark the event here in the UK, these Bastille traditions are a fantastic way of finding inspiration:
Bastille Day Feasts
What is a celebration without a traditional meal? Whether it’s a Bastille Day picnic, or a big family lunchtime feast, this special dining experience can consist of just about anything from salads and soups to quiche and pastries – not to forget delicious fresh desserts – perfect for enjoying in the stunning July weather. With food often served in the middle of the day, you have the rest of the afternoon to relax and prepare for the exciting firework display!
If you are looking to create your own Bastille-inspired meal, you can find some fantastic recipes here.
The celebrations for Bastille Day in Paris actually start the evening before on the 13th. The most famous of these celebrations is the Fireman’s Ball (also known as Bal des Pompiers) which takes place over two evenings. The ball is a French tradition where fire stations open their doors and host patriotic parties. At a Fireman’s Ball you’re likely to find traditional French music, fair games like the tombola and firemen hosting in their uniforms.
The Bastille Day fireworks can be seen from several areas around the city of Paris including the Arc de Triopmphe. The display usually starts from around 11pm, and is traditionally viewed from the Champ de Mars of Place du Trocadéro, lighting the Eiffel Tower with hundreds of fireworks for a breathtaking display that lasts about half an hour. Not in Paris? Don’t worry! You can watch the celebration for free here.
The Bastille Day Military Parade has been held on the morning of 14 July eeach year in Paris since 1880. The parade passes down the Champs-Élysées from l’Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde where the President of the French Republic stands with his government and foreign ambassadors. After this there is often a fly-past by the Alpha Jets of the French Airforce.