Celebrated on the 14th of July each year, Bastille day is the national holiday of France.
In French, the holiday is known as Fête nationale (National Celebration). What the holiday represents is the anniversary of Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, which is considered a turning point in the French Revolution. The holiday consists of many celebrations throughout France. The celebration also includes many fireworks, military parades (the oldest parade in Europe!), balls and concerts.
The Bastille Day Military Parade
The parade is a French military parade that has been held on the morning of 14 July each year in Paris since 1880, almost without exception. You can see the event broadcast live on French television.
How the parade goes:
The parade passes down the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde where the President of the French Republic, his government and foreign ambassadors to France stand.
The parade involves around 8,800 soldiers, 360 vehicles, 240 horses and more than 80 planes and helicopters!
What are some way to celebrate Bastille Day?
- Catch the 35-minute fireworks display at 11 p.m. off of the Eiffel Tower and the ponds at Trocadéro
- Watch the traditional military parade starting at 10 a.m.
- See a Reenactment of the Storming of the Bastille.
- Watch a French movie – celebrating French culture can be done in many different ways.
- Eat some delicious French food such as crepes or macarons.
- Sample a selection of French cheese.
- Party by the River in Lyon where you can see a firework show.
For more ideas check out 10 ways to celebrate Bastille day.
Some more notes:
- Some attractions and museums in Paris can be visited for free on Bastille day – do your research and find the perfect place for you to visit.
- You have to get up early for the parade! ‘The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe’ is not one to be missed. As it can become incredibly crowded and busy you want to arrive a lot earlier than the start of the parade in order to get a good spot.
- Brush up on your history – if you want to share the enthusiasm with the locals about this holiday – you need to understand what it represents.
Bastille day in 2020
Due to COVID-19, Bastille Day will be a bit different in 2020. This year’s Bastille Day military parade will be replaced by a ceremony on the Place de la Concorde square in central Paris.
The ceremony, which will include the traditional fly-over by the French air force, will honor the military’s participation in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic as well as frontline health care workers (similar to 4th of July this year in the US, which was also dedicated to frontline workers).
Did you know?
- After the storming of the Bastille, its main key was given to the Marquis de Lafayette who later gave it to George Washington.
- France is the world’s most popular tourist destination.
- Louis XIX was the king of France for just 20 minutes, the shortest ever reign.
- France was the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food.
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