Celebrating Bastille Day, July 14th
Le Quatorze Juillet, also known as Bastille Day, is a national holiday that’s celebrated annually on July 14 in France. While many think it commemorates ‘the Storming of the Bastille’ on that day in 1789, it actually celebrates the Fête de la Fédération of 1790, which was the first anniversary of the event that marked the beginning of the French Revolution, because celebrating the event itself was thought to be too controversial.
French citizens seizing control of the Bastille – a political prison and armory in Paris that represented royal authority – was a pivotal moment in the country’s history, and the fall of the Bastille became a powerful symbol of the people’s uprising against tyranny and the fight for freedom and democracy.
Modern celebrations in France
Every year, Le Quatorze Juillet is celebrated with great enthusiasm across France. There is usually an official military parade on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, attended by the President, government officials, and foreign dignitaries. The parade showcases the French Armed Forces and features marching bands and aircraft formations soaring overhead.
Many cities and towns organize street parties or picnics with live performances and traditional games for people of all ages to come together and have fun.
The evening features the main highlight of the celebrations, the spectacular fireworks displays, for which people gather in public squares, parks, along the Seine River in Paris and along the River Garonne in Bordeaux, to marvel at the amazing show of lights and colors illuminating the night sky.
Fun and festivities elsewhere
There are celebrations in many other cities around the world, perhaps organized by consulates or the French language and cultural mission, Alliance Française, or by the local French community, restaurants or Francophiles. Look out for French music concerts, screenings of French films, or servings of French food and wine.
While events are often happening in places as wide-ranging as London, UK, to Louisiana, US, anyone living in or visiting Maryland, US, might be interested to take a trip to Mount Vernon, former home of the first President of the US, George Washington, where they can see the large wrought-iron key to the Bastille prison, kept in a glass case in the entrance hall to the residence. The key was gifted to George Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette, commander of the national guard of Paris, who received the key to the prison as a symbolic gesture from the people.
Whether you’re in France or further afield for this year’s Fourteenth of July celebrations, we hope you’ll have a lot of fun. And if you’d like to come to Bordeaux next year to attend the festivities, let us know, Bordeaux With Elodie can help you make the most of your trip, we can organize visits to wineries and wine tastings and lots more!