Le quatorze juillet, or July 14th, is Bastille Day. A national holiday in France that’s kind of like the 4th of July in the US (just ten days later and a lot more French), it’s the biggest party day of the year for France when people commemorate the storming of the Bastille, a prison in Paris, on the same date during the reign of Louis XV1 in 1789 and thus commencing the French Revolution.
For Paris bound travelers, there’s no more festively French time to visit this historic and beautiful city. To help you make the most of La Fête Nationale, have a look at this brief guide to the biggest Bastille Day events in Paris.
The Grand Parade
Festivities kick off in Paris with a flyover by the Alpha Jets of La Patrouille de France (a division of the French Air Force) in the morning with a trail of smoke in red, white, and blue, followed by a traditional military parade at 11am featuring 4,000 soldiers, police officers, firefighters, and cadets of military academies. The oldest military parade in Europe, the Grand Parade starts at Champs-Elysées Avenue, moving in formation from Place de l’Etoil to Place de la Concorde.
Neighborhood parties are held at local fire stations across the city, which open their doors to the public and ask for small donations. In parks across Paris and the whole of France, families and friends can be found enjoying picnics (grab a baguette and a bottle of fizz to join in the fun) while many restaurants look to draw diners in with special Bastille Day menus.
Free Concerts and Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower
From sunset, free concerts take place on the Champs-de-Mars (the park where the Eiffel Tower is) commencing with a performance by the National Orchestra of France and the Radio France Choice with renditions of classical music favorites. After the concerts, the night sky is lit up with a spectacular fireworks display lasting more than half an hour and illuminating in an array of color the iconic Eiffel Tower.