Make your way down to the Champs-Élysées from our luxury hotel close to Haussmann Boulevard on the morning of July 14th to take part in one of the most exciting national holidays in France, Bastille Day. The Bastille Day begins with a city parade and ends with parties around Paris to celebrate the momentous event in France’s history.
About France’s Bastille Day
What is Bastille Day?
Bastille Day is a public holiday in France to commemorate the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille. The pivotal moment during the French Revolution occurred on July 14, 1789, which was a critical moment for France’s independence.
Bastille Day, as a holiday, was initially introduced as a small feast held in 1878 to honor the French Republic. It has since evolved into a nationwide celebration of French pride, with events also held around the world.
Paris is the center of all activity for international celebrations of Bastille Day. In the heart of France, you’ll be joined by public officials, locals, and specially invited guests for the celebrations. The iconic parade began in 1880 and has been a Parisian tradition ever since.
Bastille Day Meaning
Bastille Day is France’s national day, in which they celebrate the storming of the Bastille—a military fortress and prison—on July 14, 1789, in a violent uprising that helped usher in the French Revolution. Besides holding gunpowder and other supplies valuable to revolutionaries, the Bastille also symbolized the callous tyranny of the French monarchy, especially King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette.
Bastille Day History
The Bastille building, was built in the 1300s during the Hundred Years’ War against the English, and was designed to protect the eastern entrance to the city of Paris. The formidable stone building’s massive defences included 100-foot-high walls and a wide moat, plus more than 80 regular soldiers and 30 Swiss mercenaries standing guard.
Later it served as a prison, it held political dissidents (such as the writer and philosopher Voltaire), many of whom were locked away without a trial by order of the king. By 1789, however, it was scheduled for demolition, to be replaced by a public square. Moreover, it was down to just seven prisoners: four accused of forgery, two considered “lunatics” and one kept in custody at the request of his own family.
Despite inheriting tremendous debts from his predecessor, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette continued to spend extravagantly, such as by helping the American colonies win their independence from the British. By the late 1780s, France’s government stood on the brink of economic disaster.
To make matters worse, widespread crop failures in 1788 brought about a nationwide famine. Bread prices rose so high that, at their peak, the average worker spent about 88 per cent of his wages on just that one staple. Unemployment was likewise a problem, which the populace blamed in part on newly reduced customs duties between France and Britain. Following a harsh winter, violent food riots began breaking out across France at bakeries, granaries and other food storage facilities. This was the reason that lead to the revolution and consequence the end of the french monarchy and begging of a new era.
Bastille Day Today
Much like the Fourth of July in America, Bastille Day—known in France as la Fête Nationale or le 14 Juillet (14 July)—is a public holiday in France, celebrated by nationwide festivities including fireworks, parades and parties.
Attendees will see France’s tricolour flag, hear the French motto Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (“liberty, equality and fraternity”) and break into singing La Marseillaise—all popular symbols of France that had their origins in the heady days of the French Revolution. French troops have marched each year since Bastille Day of 1880 along the Champs-Elysées in Paris before French government officials and world leaders.
How to celebrate Bastille Day?
Paris begins to celebrate Bastille Day on the morning of July 14th every year at 10:30am to have plenty of time throughout the day for various events. Luckily, Hotel Bowmann is located just a short ride away from the location of the parade at Champs-Élysées, which you can access via car or public transportation. Expect major crowds for the parade so arriving early can increase your chances of having a great view.
The Bastille Day parade is the largest military parade in Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people line the streets during the parade to see the patriotic procession. French pride is everywhere you look, from flags hanging from apartment balconies to face paint of the flag. The parade begins at the Arc de Triomphe and extends to the Place de la Concorde. The public is accompanied by the President of France who is seated towards the end of the parade route.
After the parade, the streets remain lively and packed with festive crowds as you get treated by music, food, dancing, right in the Parisian center. Major concerts have been hosted during the holiday, from local Concierto bands to mainstream artists.
As night begins to fall, gather around the Eiffel tower to witness an amazing light show and fireworks. Lights are projected onto the tower showcasing national pride only to transition into an awe-inspiring firework show to light up the Paris sky. Crowds picnic in front of the tower all day to await the fireworks and have the best view of the show.
The nightlife on Bastille Day is just as exciting as the day time festivities. Fire stations host their famous Fireman’s Balls, held at various stations around the city. The parties create an exciting nightlife atmosphere complete with music, drinking, and dancing all night long.
Bastille Day is one of the largest holiday celebrations in Paris. It’s held during the busy travel season of Paris, during the summer, attracting countless international tourists to join in the festivities. Stay at our central luxury hotel in Paris to enjoy easy access to the city’s major holiday.