How to celebrate Bastille Day in Paris like a local

Posted on 10. Jul, 2012 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, France, Guest Posts

If you have the opportunity to celebrate Bastille Day with the Parisians, it’s one not to be missed.

What’s not to like? Striped shirts, fireworks, al fresco wine until the wee hours?

The French may not be as patriotic as Uncle Sam but July 14th is THE day of the year where they let loose, wave their flag and assume the stereotypes (beret and striped shirt strongly encouraged). On this day the city becomes even more alive with energy as the nation commemorates its independence, and the festivities last well into the night! But be warned that Paris gets very busy for Bastille Day!

bastille day in paris

Bastille Day, on the 14th July honours the democracy brought about by the French Revolution, which began with the destruction of Paris’ Bastille prison in 1789. In modern day Paris, this important date means processions, wine parties on the Champs-de-Mars and lots of colourful fireworks.

During the day, Parisians will line the Champs-Elysees all the way to the Arc de Triomphe to witness the military parade whilst military jets fly overhead. Why they would inflict these painful noises to their ears I don’t know - it’s very likely that most of them will be nursing a hangover as the night before Bastille Day, a huge dance party is held at the Place de la Bastille, called le Bal du 14 juillet. Who knows - maybe you’ll be one of those people!

There will also be galas held in the fire stations around the city on the 13th and 14th of July at which everyone is invited to stop and eat, dance and mingle. It’s the ideal occasion to discuss with the locals and break the ever-so-hard ice. Don’t hesitate to ask them about France, and why they are proud to be French. If there’s one day of the year where talking politics with a stranger is accepted, it’s on the national holiday.

If you can’t get a spot on the Champs-de-Mars or near the Trocadéro for the concert, don’t fret - instead, sit on the Seine banks and wait for the fireworks show to begin. Or better yet, climb up la Butte Montmartre or the Georges Pompidou for an amazing panorama of the city. Regardless of what option you pick, Bastille Day in Paris is an incredible experience, and I strongly recommend it to anyone. The French DO know how to party, apparently!

If you’d rather have a quiet evening, you can either watch the fireworks live on the telly of your hotel room, or spend the night at the Opéra or the Louvre, which both have free entrance on that day. Interesting options abound on July 14th!

bastille day in paris

Have you ever celebrated Bastille Day in Paris? Or do you prefer to see the fireworks on the news report? What are your recommendations?

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2 Responses to “How to celebrate Bastille Day in Paris like a local”

  1. Awesome!! We were looking for these tips exactly, and am looving the Bal des Pompiers! Will definitely check it out.

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  2. Vive Trianon

    12. Jul, 2012

    Wow! It looks like such an amazing celebration! One day we’ll be in those crowds in our Breton stripes!

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