Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day
Every year on the 14th of July, the whole of France celebrates the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, the start of the French Revolution, and the subsequent unification of the French people. All over the country, massive parties are held in recognition of the events that changed the course of French history and created the France that we know today. If you're going to be in France for Bastille Day, or if you're thinking about planning a trip, read on for my guide to some of the best Bastille Day celebrations in France.
It goes without saying that the biggest and most notable Bastille Day celebration happens in Paris. It starts on the evening of the 13th, with dance parties at Fire stations throughout the city, with open doors from 9pm to 4am for dancing, fun and revelry.
French soldiers during Bastille Day
On the morning of the 14th, a military parade makes its way down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concord. The parade has been held every year since 1880, and is the oldest and largest military parade in Europe. The event begins at 10am, so be sure to get down early to grab a good spot to watch the spectacle in all its glory.
After the parade, people head home or to a restaurant for a Bastille Day feast, before the firework extravaganza that lights up the night's sky begins. There are plenty of great places to enjoy the fireworks display, but Centre George Pompidou, Montmartre and Belleville are a few of my favourites. Then, once the fireworks are over, join the crowds at more fire station parties, or explore the rest of Paris' thriving nightlife.
This beautiful alpine town is located in the south-eastern part of France on the banks of a lake with the same name. It's this spectacular backdrop that makes Bastille Day in Annecy so very special. Celebrations take place at Le Pâquier promenade, an open space on the banks of the lake, and include concerts, picnics and evening fireworks. Not only is this a wonderful place to enjoy Bastille Day, but it's a fantastic place to experience some of France's best countryside.
Like many other cities and towns in France, Bastille Day in Lyon means night-long fire station parties and marvellous fireworks displays. Get your dancing shoes on, enjoy some delicious French food and soak up the infectious party atmosphere. One of the best places to watch the fireworks in Lyon is atop Fourvière hill, a UNESCO World Heritage site located to the west of the old town. This beautiful spot will give you a magnificent view of the fireworks display and the city of Lyon as a whole. Incroyable!
The view of Lyon from Fourvière hill
Bastille Day in Bordeaux is known for the massive picnic held at Parc Simone Signoret on the 13th, followed by a military parade at the Esplanade des Quinconces on the 14th. People flock to watch the day parade, and then return in the evening when the city comes alive with dance balls and fireworks - it's a truly wonderful place to be.
Want a piece of the action?
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
you can travel from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, and with motorway access at either end, you can spend less time in the car and more time celebrating.
Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day - Image by Flickr user Yann Caradec
Lake Annecy - Flickr user Guilhem Vellut
French soldiers during Bastille Day - Flickr user USAFE AFAFRICA
The view of Lyon from Fourvière hill - Flickr user Shane McGregor