Joyeuse Fête Nationale, mes amis! Today is Bastille Day and it’s cause for some seriously Francophone celebration.
On July 14th, 1789, when French rioters stormed the Bastille, a fortress then used as a prison in Paris, they sparked the fire that ignited the French Revolution.
These days, Bastille Day is celebrated as something akin to French Independence Day. La Marseillaise, the French national anthem is sung, lavish parties are held, traditional foods are eaten, and bien sur, fireworks are set off. It’s a super fun holiday, and a great excuse to eat some éclairs and down that extra glass of French rosé.
So, where can you get in on the fun à la française? Never fear! We know exactly where to send you. Au revoir!
Bastille Day is a major event in Paris, and if you’re in town this week, you definitely don’t want to miss it! Kick the day off on the Champs-Élysées, where you can catch a military parade headed by President François Hollande himself. Afterward, you can check out a free contemporary dance performance at the Opéra National de Paris, or head to the Louvre, where access to all its permanent collections is free on July 14th. And of course, don’t forget to swing by the actual Bastille itself. The prison is gone, but an impressive monument stands in its place, amidst plenty of cute cafés where you can stop for lunch.
End the day at Trocadero, the best vantage point to view the Eiffel Tower and the insanely elaborate fireworks show that will happen around it once night falls. Vive la France!
The largest city on France’s Mediterranean coast—and the namesake of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise—Marseille knows how to throw one incredible celebration for Bastille Day. Make that deux incredible celebrations, actually, as the party starts on July 13th and rages for a full two days.
What’s on deck for la Fête Nationale à Marseille? A folk parade, a ball, live music and dancing at the Cour d’Estienne d’Orves, and a grand fireworks display over the Vieux Port. Watching fireworks over the harbor, lighting up the water, the boats, and the iconic Notre Dame de la Garde below? It doesn’t get any better than that.
Famous for its Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations, it’s easy to forget that New Orleans is a vestige of French colonialism in the Americas. While most of the French colonial influence is concentrated in Canada—largely within the separatist province of Québec, to be exact—New Orleans still has strong ties to French history and culture. What does that mean for Bastille Day? It’s a big deal on the Bayou!
Bastille Day is celebrated for a full weekend in New Orleans. The four-day celebration includes a Bastille Day dinner, an organized bike ride through the town, a dog costume contest, a musical extravaganza and—of course—fireworks. Finish out the week watching the regatta and rocking out to the jam-packed music show on Sunday. C’est magnifique!
Heading back up North to the locus of French colonial heritage in the Americas, Montréal is another awesome place to ring in Bastille Day—without the transatlantic flight to France. On July 14th, the Québécois can’t deny their French roots, and the local French Union organizes a festival filled with awesome food and live music.
When you’re not busy enjoying the dedicated Bastille Day festival, just wandering the streets of this Canadian city will have you feeling like you’ve left the continent. Filled with French restaurants, bakeries, churches, bookstores, and signage, you’ll feel like you stepped across the pond to France—without having to fly over the ocean. Bon voyage!
Perhaps the most surprising spot on this list, Milwaukee hosts one of the US’s biggest and best Bastille Day celebrations. Who knew this Midwestern city had so much Francophile charm?
The festivities take place from July 14 through July 17, in the city’s Cathedral Square Park. Events include a wine tasting, a “Storm the Bastille” themed run, live music, roaming street performers, French and Cajun food galore, and a 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica complete with hourly light shows. When it comes to Bastille Day, Milwaukee really is the big cheese!
Where will you be celebrating this year’s Fête Nationale? Let us know in the comments! Amusez-vous bien!
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