Bastille Day, also known as France National Day, is a celebration of all things French, so national pride shines throughout the country on this day. Bastille Day is celebrated much like Independence Day in other countries with huge public firework displays (the most famous of which takes place at the Eiffel Tower), parades, and performances celebrating freedom, democracy, and most importantly, French culture.
France National Day, La Fête Nationale, (Bastille Day) occurs every year on July 14th to honor and celebrate the beginning of the French revolution. July 14th was the day of the storming of the Bastille Prison in 1789, which played a huge part in the start of the French Revolution.
France National Day is celebrated much like Independence Day or National Day in other countries with huge public firework displays (the most famous of which takes place at the Eiffel Tower), parades, and performances celebrating freedom, democracy, and most importantly: French culture. France National Day is a celebration of all things French, so national pride shines throughout the country on this day.
Bastille Day Celebrations in France
There are many celebrations on Bastille Day in France and most businesses and restaurants are closed since Bastille Day is a national holiday. Every year, there is a large parade in Paris that lasts over two hours long and typically involves more than 4,000 soldiers and over 300 vehicles/aircraft, but there are several smaller parades held across the country.
Once it gets dark, there is a large firework show at the Eiffel Tower to celebrate Bastille Day and usually feature the red, white, and blue colors of the French flag. There are also balls/dances, large family and friends meals, and musical performances to honor Bastille Day. Some of the French prefer to have smaller picnics with family and friends and enjoy their day more quietly than the large celebrations allow.
Tips for Traveling to France during Bastille Day
While traveling, be aware that there won’t be much open on Bastille Day due to the fact that it is a national holiday. Public transport is typically open, but always check to make sure and to avoid a nasty surprise. Be sure to also check with family and/or friends about what their plans are since there are so many different ways to celebrate Bastille Day.
History of Bastille Day
When most hear the topic of the French revolution, they think of the book Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, the movie starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, or the Broadway production. However, Les Misérables actually takes place in a different century than the original French revolution that began with the storming of Bastille and the popular book, movie, and Broadway production technically have little if anything to do with the French revolution. Back in 1789, La Bastille was a prison/fort in Paris and it was sieged on July 14th by revolutionists in order to free the prisoners and attain weapons. This siege became the symbol for the French revolution as well as the beginning of the people’s revolution.
The revolutionists captured the governor over the prison and beheaded him. Some records state that the revolutionists carried the governor’s head on a stick to show what they had done. The siege was a call to the French monarchy that more and more people were believing in the revolution’s motto: liberté, égalité, fraternité, which translates to liberty, equality, and brotherhood. The revolution was about destroying the monarchy to create room for a new republic to rule instead.