Vive la Révolution!
Bastille Day, or La Fête Nationale, is a celebration of France and French culture that spans well beyond the borders of this well-loved nation. It’s a national celebration and public holiday with celebrations held across the country, including military and civilian parades, musical and theatrical performances, communal meals (not to be missed!), dances, parties, balls, fireworks and more. The Eiffel Tower and the French flag are symbols of Bastille Day and it’s not uncommon to see many a reveller and establishment adorning the flag colours of blue, white and red on this special day. If you’re looking for the largest and widest variety of celebrations to celebrate Bastille Day and don’t mind a big crowd, Paris is for you.
In Paris, celebrations for Bastille Day kick off the night before with firefighter dances (yes, you read correctly - ooh la la!) at stations around the city as well of plenty of parties. Go easy, as official celebrations the next day start at 10am with an impressive military parade attracting millions. The spectacular feux d’artifice (fireworks) follows a massive, free concert on the Champ de Mars (a large public green space) at around 11pm and is a must-see. If you plan on making some local friends on Bastille Day, we recommend learning a bit about the day in addition to a few French phrases. To start your learned journey, on July 14, way back in 1789, troops stormed the Parisian medieval fortress and prison of Bastille. This marked the beginning of the French Revolution and just one year later, a festival - Fête de la Fédération – was held to celebrate the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in France. This is a continuation of that celebration. Why not time your trip to France to coincide with the French national day?
When is it?
Tips and tricks
Bastille Day is hugely popular in cities like Paris and accommodation can get pricey and booked out early. Student Flights can help book transfers, accommodation and other handy things for you well in advance.
Don’t say, "Happy Bastille Day" to locals, they’re likely to give you a confused look as they know the day as La Fête Nationale or Le Quatorze Juillet.
Do a little recon on good places for the feux d’artifice (fireworks) – if you don’t want to squeeze into the Champ de Mars, try places like bridge crossings over the Seine near the Eiffel Tower.
While some venues shut for the public holiday, most museums in Paris stay open and the Louvre is often free on Bastille Day.
Firemen’s balls are hugely popular and are held across Paris at fires stations on July 13, 14 and 15 between 9pm and 4am.
While July temperatures are typically comfortable in France, the nights can get cool so don’t forget an emergency jumper.