Need to Know

Bastille Day – History, Significance, and Celebrations

I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.

Bastille Day known in French – La Fête Nationale (French National Day), Le Quatorze Juillet is an important day known and celebrated around the world as a major turning point in French history. On July 14, 1789, the people of Paris under the Monarchy started the French Revolution by raiding the Bastille Prison in Paris, the symbol of the monarchy. This event led to the transition of France from a monarchy to a republic. This day is an opportunity for the French to celebrate an important milestone in their history.

These celebrations allow the French to commemorate their history and enjoy the celebrations by getting together with each other. There are great opportunities to celebrate Bastille Day such as concerts, exhibitions, parades, and fireworks display taking place in various parts of the country especially in Paris with people all around the world.

This year, make a plan to join the celebrations and explore French culture. On this holiday, you can celebrate French culture and unity while having fun remembering the importance of history. When you go to Paris for the Bastille Day, one of the most beautiful areas you can stay is Montparnasse. Make sure to check for more information!

Origins of Bastille Day

Bastille prison

Bastille Prison

Bastille Prison is a prison located in Paris, France, which became a symbol of the French Revolution. The prison was built in the 14th century and has been renovated many times over time. The building, which was originally built for defense purposes. The prison became a place that imprisoned dissidents of the state, enforced censorship, and was used as an intimidation for political opponents of royalty.

Place de la Bastille

“Place de la Bastille”, Bastille Square

French people’s capture of the Bastille Prison on 14 July 1789. this date is celebrated as “Bastille Day”, the national holiday of France. The prison was demolished after the revolution and there is now a square “Place de la Bastille” and monument in its place. Today, the Bastille is a popular part of Paris and is visited by many tourists. The district is full of places such as many restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. Click for more information about Bastille.

History of Bastille Day

Political tensions in France leading up to the French Revolution

Political, economic and social crises were experienced in France at the end of the 18th century. The cause of these crises are factors such as class distinctions, tax burden, form of government, power struggles and the spread of enlightenment thought. The French Revolution broke out in 1789 and led to the establishment of the republic. The revolution popularized the concepts of human rights, freedoms and equality with the idea of enlightenment and brought the end of the feudal system and privileges and led to the establishment of the modern state.

Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789

Bastille day July 14 1789

Photo Credit: @britannica

The Bastille Prison became the target of popular anger, as it was seen as a symbol of feudal privileges. Therefore, the people decided to take up arms and raid the Bastille Prison. The raid started in the morning hours. The people climbed inside the prison walls. The prison warden, the Marquis de Launay, opened fire to block the crowd, but the crowd grew larger and took the Bastille. Meanwhile, many people were killed or injured.

The Birth of the French Republic

The fall of the monarchy

Parade Bastille Day end World War I July 14 1919

Photo Credit: @britannica

In the early days of the French Revolution, absolute monarchy reigned in the administration of France. However, the French people suffered greatly from unjust rule, corruption, injustice and feudal privileges. After many popular uprisings, the biggest uprising against the monarchy began with the raid of the Bastille Prison in 1789. The execution of King Louis XVI was one of the important events that symbolized the collapse of the monarchy.

In the continuation of the French Revolution, the monarchy was overthrown and France accepted the sovereignty of the people and transitioned to the republican regime, and in 1792, France declared the I. French Republic. The establishment of the Republic enabled freedom, equality, justice and democratic forms of government to prevail in France.

Key figures and events in the Republic’s early years

Napoleoyon Bonapart

Napoleon Bonaparte

Thanks to his military successes, such as the Italian and Egyptian campaigns, and his successful political policies, he became one of France’s leading military leaders and became head of France in 1799.

Jacobins/ The Jacobin Club

The Jacobins, who formed the radical side of the French Revolution, were effective in the bloodiest periods of the revolution and Republic’s early years. They are prominent Jacobin leaders such as Maximilien Robespierre, Georges Danton and Jean-Paul Marat.

Bastille Day Celebrations in France


It would not be wrong to say that France is a country that fascinates all people thanks to its rich culture, cuisine and history, and the best time to experience these riches in France is Bastille Day. Celebrating the national holiday commemorating the beginning of the French revolution can be a very interesting experience.

Paris is considered the center of Bastille Day celebrations and hosts many events including the Champs-Élysées Street Military Parade, the Paris Town Hall Speech, concerts and street performances, fiery dances and fireworks display at Eiffel Tower.

Bastille Day celebrations in Paris provide a good opportunity to explore historic squares. For example, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Montmartre, Marais District, Bastille Square and Place de la Concorde are among the popular tourist attractions to visit in Paris.
You can explore the famous sights of Paris, Montmarte as well!

Also, many restaurants, cafes and patisseries in Paris offer delicious French dishes and desserts. French cuisine is known and loved around the world that you can try during Bastille Day celebrations. Here are the must-sees and experiences to celebrate Bastille Day in Paris:

The military parade on the Champs-Elysees

Bastille Day Parade in Champs-Élysées

Bastille Day Parade in Champs-Élysées

To highlight the meaning of Bastille Day and to showcase France’s national pride and strength, the Champs-Élysées Street Military Parade is one of the most important events of the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris.

This ceremony, in which national feelings are deeply felt and freedom, equality and Republic celebrations take place, starts at 10 am in the Arc de Triomphe at Avenue de Friedland, but it will be better for your view to go early because thousands of people from all over the world participate in the celebrations. Military units from all over the country and the president of the French Republic are invited here to give their speeches.

After a moment of silence for the President, the ceremony starts at 10.00 am and the opening is made for the flight show known in French – Patrouille Acrobatique de France, which is one of the most fascinating visual feasts of the ceremony. In the flight show flyover of Military aircrafts decorates the sky with the colors of the French flag.

Bastille Day Parade

At 11 am, the French military units begin their parade. The ceremony includes the procession of the French army’s band, cavalry units, artillery units, and other military forces. Take your place in the front rows to feel the national feelings deeply and commemorate the Republic. Because the marches of the military units will gravely impress you.
The route of the ceremony ends at Place de la Concorde. This ceremony, which lasts about 1 hour, is only a magnificent start to the Bastille Day celebrations.

For the audience who do not want to be in the crowd, there are places where they can watch the sky show, one of the most beautiful viewing spots in Paris. Grande Arche in La Défense is one of the best places to watch the military flight show on the rooftop and it is open to the public.

Paris Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel is one of the hotels that will allow you to both stay and watch the show during your breakfast for your viewing pleasure.

Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower


The fireworks display on Bastille Day can be described as perhaps the most beautiful celebration today, with the most famous fireworks display on the Seine River behind the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The enchanting view of the Seine River and the gorgeous Eiffel Tower, as well as the spectacular colorful fireworks show, provide the audience with a magnificent evening. The show starts at 11 pm and lasts approximately 35 minutes.

Those who want to watch the fireworks display in Paris can go to one of the best places, Trocadéro Square or the Champ de Mars. These areas are well positioned to view the show in its entirety and provide an enchanting view during the show.

Other traditions and festivals

Fireman’s Balls (Les Bals des Pompiers)

Le Bal Des Pompiers

The party continues for those who want to go beyond the limits of entertainment on Bastille Day. Fireman’s Balls (Les Bals des Pompiers) parties, which start at 9 pm and continue until 4 am on 13 and 14 July, attract a lot of attention in various parts of Paris.

Fireman Ball’s parties, which we can call street parties, can be an experience that offers a traditional experience and entertainment to those coming from all over the world. It is a night of traditional dance and celebrations, attended by the firefighters of France, pompiers.

The most spectacular of the parties is held at the main fire station (Caserne) and is held in many parts of the city. Don’t be surprised if you come across Fireman Ball’s while walking the streets of Paris on Bastille Day.

How French people celebrate the day

Bastille Day is celebrated enthusiastically throughout France by tourists and locals from around the world. Here are many more activities you can do in France today:

  • Concerts: On July 14th, numerous cities have concerts. These performances typically include well-known musicians, bands, and orchestras. After the fireworks, you may go to free outdoor performances by the river and near the Eiffel Tower.
  • Street Parties: Some cities have street parties. At these events, you might see people singing, dancing, and eating on the streets.
  • Sports activities: On July 14th, sports activities take place in several cities. Football competitions, cycling races, and street jogging are a few examples.
  • Food Festivals: On July 14, food festivals are organized in certain cities. At these festivities, a variety of French foods, sweets, and beverages are available.
  • Art Events: On July 14, art events take place in different cities. Street art, live performances, and outdoor displays are frequent features of these events.
  • Children’s Activities: On July 14, certain cities host kid-friendly events. Face painting, bubbles, bouncy houses, and other entertaining activities are frequently present at these gatherings.


Bastille Day Around the World

Bastille Day is a significant holiday observed globally, even though it is enthusiastically observed in France and Paris. Particularly among French populations in Canada and the USA, it is a widely observed holiday. It is observed with neighborhood festivals, performances, and street celebrations in various cities, including Quebec, Montreal, and New Orleans. The 14th of July is traditionally observed as “French Day” in various American cities, including New York.
Various events are being held in various sections of New York to honor Bastille Day. The Bastille Day Ball, the FIAF Bastille Day Fair, and the performance An Attic Full of Hope are just a few of the fantastic activities you can go to in New York.


How is Bastille Day celebrated?

Bastille Day represents the beginning of the French Revolution. It is celebrated every year on 14 July. The center of the celebrations is Paris, the capital of France. Some of the most important and traditional celebrations of Bastille Day are: Champs-Élysées Street Military Parade, Firework shows at the Eiffel Tower and Fireman's Balls. Along with these, open-air concerts, parties, food festivals and sports activities are also held in Paris today.

What do you say to celebrate Bastille Day in France?

Bastille Day is one of the most beautiful days in Paris. Bastille celebrations, which usually last for 2 days, allow you to see the cultural and artistic aspects of Paris, explore the French cuisine and have a fun holiday with celebrations.

What happens on every 14th of july in the evening in French?

On the evening of Bastille Day (July 14), the biggest celebration in Paris is the fireworks on the Eiffel Tower. This feast, which you must watch, starts at 11 pm and lasts for about 1 hour. At the same time, street parties are held all over the city. The most famous of these street parties is Fireman's Balls.

Is everything closed in Paris on Bastille Day?

Some restaurants, markets and stores will be closed on Bastille Day. However, many famous restaurants serve that day, but do not forget to make a reservation. The Metro and RER will be open, but stations around the Eiffel tower and the Champs-Elysées will be closed in the evening. Government institutions, businesses, pharmacies, banks and some museums will be closed.

Is Paris crowded on Bastille Day?

Bastille Day is one of the most crowded days in Paris. Therefore, make your holiday plans and make reservations for Bastille Day as soon as possible. Don't forget to book your event tickets in advance and go to the celebrations early to get a better view.
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