Fête Nationale, Quatorze Juillet but almost never Bastille Day. You would rarely hear the French call the 14th of July ‘Bastille Day’. Le Quatorze Juillet, commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison on the 14th of July, 1789. This was the beginning of the Revolution which changed France forever. This public holiday is celebrated in style all over France, in particular the capital.
The Défilé du 14 Juillet is a military parade that has been held in Paris since 1880 along the Champs Elysees, from the Arc de Triomphe until Place de la Concorde. It’s broadcast on TV for those who aren’t fans of crowds (or whom have had a big night at Le Bal des Pompiers -see below).
What else does la Fête Nationale mean for many? Two big nights of celebrations! Le Bal des Pompiers normally held on the 13th and fireworks, held either the 13th or 14th.
Le Bal des Pompiers or Fireman Ball is great fun. Each caserne (firestation) in Paris and throughout France open their doors for a big party which also serves as a fundraiser for the Fire Stations of France. Entry is by donation and you can buy drinks and food inside. Everyone is on their best behaviour because you have all the fireman and police of the arrondissement there! The Pompiers are great sports, mingling with the crowd, painting faces and making a great atmosphere. Of course they are often easy on the eye 😉
We chose again to go to Le Bal in the 5 ème, held in les Arènes de Lutèce, a Roman amphithéâtre constructed in thé 1st century AD. We’ve been there numerous times to play Pétanque or Mölkky but there’s nothing better than dancing the night away in a Historical Monument. Le Bal finished at 4am and of course the Vélib bike system was our transport home.
To top off the celebrations we finished the long weekend with fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. This takes serious preparation and dedication. Most of our group secured a large spot along the Champs de Mars around 4pm with the fireworks due to start at 11pm.
We had visitors who visited Paris during the day join us later on. By 6pm it was tight with more and more trying to squeeze in for the best view. It is tiring, hot and you get sick of port-a-loos after 7 hours but once those fireworks start all is forgotten! Magical! A must see once if you can! Here is a link to the official footage, if you can’t wait the whole thing, watch from around the 30 minute mark as it’s coming into the finale! The theme this year was ‘Paris Accueille le Monde’ (Paris welcomes the world). Watch it here.