228 years ago, French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille: a medieval fortress, armory, and prison located in the heart of Paris. There was a total of only seven inmates in the prison, but to the revolutionaries this place symbolized the monarchy’s abuse of power.
Fun fact: Death by guillotine used to be the official and only way to inflict the death penalty in France, and that was the case until the last execution was performed in 1977. It also happened to be the last in the European Union.
Phrases you’re likely to hear during Bastille Day:
Y’a trop de monde.
There’s too many people.
On va sur les quais?
Should we go to the docks?
On a quand même de la chance d’être Français.
We’re quite lucky to be french.
Passe le cubis s’il te plait.
Pass the box wine please.
CONCERT ON CHAMPS DE MARS
Champs de Mars
Every year before the fireworks display there’s a huge concert on Champs de Mars, right in front of the Eiffel Tower. It will be performed by the Orchestre National de France and Radio France Choir. They will perform pieces by Berlioz, Verdi, Bizet, Puccini, Wagner, and more! It’s a great opportunity to listen to classical music while outside before the fireworks start. This year the theme is Paris est une Fête (Paris is a Party).
Champs de Mars
Every year, there’s a firework display on Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower. There’s also going to be a big concert there after the fireworks. If you want the best view, don’t try and go as close to the Eiffel Tower as possible, as it will be packed with people. Those are good alternatives:
33, Avenue du Maine
You can go to the 56st floor and enjoy the firworks on the tower’s terrace. It costs 15€ but it’s not every day you can say you watched fireworks come out of the Eiffel Tower from a 700 feet terrace!
Port de Suffren
Why not watch the fireworks from a boat on the Seine? It’s an hour long ride and the vedette stops right by the Eiffel Tower. Since there’s a limited number of places, you won’t be in the middle of several thousand people on land.
35, Rue du Chevalier de la Barre
You know that beautiful white church you can see from campus? It has the advantage of being on a hill, Montmartre. That means you can enjoy the fireworks from afar without having to worry about the crowd. Unless you’re not the only one who thought about that…
Located right next to the Louvre, Pont des Arts has a clear view of Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower. Get there early if you want a nice spot! A big advantage is that it’s entirely free. This is the famous bridge that used to have lovers locks all over it. They’ve recently been taken down because they were weighing down the bridge so much it risked collapsing.
BAL DES POMPIERS
Several fire stations organise balls for Bastille Day. They’re usually free and run on donations. All donations go to improving living conditions in the fire stations. Firemen are the nicest people in uniforms you can think of, don’t hesitate to give a little something.
7, Rue de Sévigné
This fire station is in the 4th arrondissement and has been throwing some of the best balls for Bastille Day for years now.
12, Rue Carpeaux
Caserne Carpeaux is in Montmartre and was the first fire station to ever organise a ball for Bastille Day in 1937. They’ve been doing for a long time and they know what’s up by now.
There’s a military parade for Bastille Day on Champs Elysées that has been held since 1880. Make sure to learn La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, if you want to scream in unison with the French. There’s also a flypast led by French air and naval air forces, culminating in a parachute display.