Bastille Day or la Fête nationale (The National Celebration) is celebrated on 14 July in France. The national day of France commemorates the Storming of Bastille, the medieval fortress, armory and prison in Paris, on 14 July 1789 that marks a turning point of the French Revolution. Bastille Day also commemorates the Fête de la Fédération, a massive holiday festival that celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790. Bastille Day is a public holiday in France.
On the morning of Bastille Day, a French military parade is performed on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, in front of the President of the French Republic, along with other French officials and foreign guests. The French military parade is the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe, as it has been held since 1880. On 13 and 14 July there is also Bastille Day Firemen’s Balls, when fire stations stay open at night to welcome visitors to celebrate.
Bastille Day is celebrated with musical performances, communal means, dances and balls. Houses are decorated with buntings and banners in blue, white and red, the colors of French national flag or tricolor. People also wear clothing in the tricolor. Families and friends will get together for a picnic or a barbecue, and some of them will play pétanque, a game similar to boules or bowls, in backyards and parks. At night, there will be firework displays in many cities of France, the largest and most spectacular among them is held at the Eiffel Tower.
Bastille Day is also celebrated in other countries such Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and many more. The celebration consists of holding French market, French food-tasting, French-themed festival, French historical reenactment, and other various French-themed festivities.
If you are in Paris on Bastille Day, make sure to head to the Champs-Élysées in the morning to watch the military parade, and be at the Eiffel Tower at night to watch the firework display! Even if you do not celebrate Bastille Day, you could still share the spirit by learning more about French history, culture and heritage. Or by serving French renowned dishes such as macaroons, crêpes, French cheese or French wine to families and friends, or watching French films. If you are fluent in French, you could also read French books!
What about you? Tell us your favorite Bastille Day activity, or share your most memorable Bastille Day celebration!