France’s Bastille Day is a fascinating affair. Dating back to the late 1700s, it celebrates one of the country’s bloodiest, yet most iconic, revolutions. These days July 14 – Bastille Day – calls for the most luminous festival, with street parties, fireworks and parades galore.
Here’s what you need to know to enjoy a Bastille Day holiday in the city of love: Paris.
A brief history of Bastille Day
Times were tough for the common folk of 1700s France. The American Revolution across the Atlantic was sapping the country’s funds, and a higher standard of living meant that France was the most populated country in Europe, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica. In addition, they were often hard done by their upper class countrymen, including wealthy peasants who were technically not nobles (the bourgeois).
After a lot of political turmoil, a moment in time known as the ‘Great Fear’ occurred, where conspiracy theories were ripe and the people afraid. With troops gathering in Paris, the common folk stormed the Bastille – an old fortress used as a state prison – on July 14, 1789. This is widely considered the beginning of the French Revolution.
Celebrate la fete nationale in Paris
To get a true feel for the emotion of Bastille Day, you need to visit the French capital itself. Celebrations of all kinds take place on this famous day, starting in the morning and partying well into the night.
The Grand Parade
Bastille Day’s famous July 14 parade in Paris is one of the largest military parades in the whole of Europe. Make sure you have a good viewing spot on Champ-Elysees Avenue, because this is where the action takes place.
The parade commences with a flyover by Alpha Jets from La Patrouille de France, which is a part of the nation’s air force. These awesome fighters will be trailing smoke as they rocket past, in colours of red, white and blue.
The parade starts at 11 a.m., beginning at the Arc de Triumph. You can expect to see up to 4,000 military personnel, firefighters, police officers and even military cadets marching down this famous street, with enthusiastic locals flanking them waving French flags.
If you thought the scale of the Grand Parade was impressive, the fireworks show will blow your mind.
Get a seat at Champs de Mars early because you won’t want to miss the famous Bastille Day fireworks display. As the sun sets at the end of the day, the National Orchestra of France and Radio France Choir will bring you their spectacular renditions of Mozart, Verdi and many other renowned composers, bringing up the atmosphere in a truly historic way.
When the light of the sun disappears, the Eiffel Tower will explode with colour like you’ve never seen before. Beginning at 11p.m. and lasting for 35 minutes, this spectacular show leaves you wanting more!
There are plenty of other events happening around the city. Many love to experience a famous firemen’s ball on the night, as well as the ruins of the Bastille itself.
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Are you celebrating Bastille Day this year?