A picture of fireworks and the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day in Paris Bastille Day Fireworks ignite the skies near the Eiffel Tower in Paris

On Saturday July 14th 2012, Bastille Day will be celebrated not only in France but all over the world! One of France’s biggest holidays, there will be Bastille Day parades, parties and fireworks across the country.

A picture of the Arc de Triomphe and the French Tricolor Flag in Paris The French Tricolor Flag is displayed at the Arc de Triomphe for Bastille Day in Paris

Meanwhile, French expat communities and international Francophiles will hold their own celebrations in many different corners of the world. To give you an idea of the global celebrations, we’ll highlight 2012 Bastille Day festivities in four different cities. In this first part of the Bastille Day series, we’ll start off with Paris in Northern France and Nice in Southern France. In the second part, we’ll take you across the English Channel to London and then across the Atlantic to end with Bastille Day in New York City!

Le Quatorze Juillet

Bastille Day is a French National holiday (La Fête Nationale), which has been celebrated for over a century. Contrary to popular belief, Bastille Day doesn’t actually celebrate the storming of the Bastille. Instead, it commemorates the Fête de la Fédération of 1790, which was a huge feast held one year after the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. The feast celebrated the new constitutional monarchy and the general notion of liberty in France. Even though the constitutional monarchy was short-lived and was followed by many turbulent periods, about a century later in 1880, it was decided that the 14th of July would become a national holiday. The French often refer to the holiday simply as “le quatorze Juillet”.

Bastille Day in Paris

Image of the Military Parade at the Champs Élysées in Paris for Bastille Day The Bastille Day Military Parade and fly-past at the Champs Élysées in Paris

Home to the original Fête de la Fédération, Paris holds many celebrations for Bastille Day every year. In the morning, one of the oldest and largest annual military parades in the whole of Europe is held on the Avenue des Champs Élysées. The parade features thousands of soldiers from the French Army, the French Navy, the French Air force, the Paris Fire Brigade and many more. Even foreign troops are often invited to take part in the parade. The parade starts at the Arc de Triomphe and ends at the Place de la Concorde, where the French President and guests stand to watch. Furthermore, an impressive fly-past consisting of different aircrafts accompanies the parade, which means that even if you’re not able to watch the parade at the Champs Élysées, you might still catch some of the air show from other spots in central Paris.

A picture of Bastille Day fireworks and the Eiffel Tower Bastille Day fireworks and the Eiffel Tower

In the evening, many Parisians make their way to the 7th Arrondissement for the Bastille Day fireworks. This year, the fireworks are ignited at the Jardins du Trocadéro, right across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower. If you want a good view of the fireworks and the Eiffel Tower, we advise you stake out a spot at the Champ de Mars, where you will also get to hear the musical accompaniment to the fireworks. The wide lawns at the Champ de Mars can hold many people, but be prepared for large crowds! The fireworks start around 10:30 pm after sundown, so be sure to arrive well in advance. You can even bring a picnic (no glass bottles) to have a nice French dinner while you’re waiting.

After the fireworks, don’t try to catch the subway at the metro stations closest to the Champ de Mars. Some of them will be closed because of the crowds, and the ones that aren’t closed will be packed. Instead, walk a little further to the outer stations of the Arrondissement where it will be quieter.

We’ve only covered the two main events on Bastille Day in Paris here, but there are many more things to do on Bastille Day in Paris! For example, there’s free admission to the Louvre Museum in the afternoon as well as a free performance at the Opéra de Paris. There are also many parties held on the night before Bastille Day and after the fireworks on the day itself. Over 40 Parisian fire stations will hold free parties from 9 pm to 4 am. Whatever way you choose to celebrate Bastille Day in Paris, you can be sure that you’ll have an amazing time!

If you’re still looking for accommodation in Paris for Bastille Day, check out our vacation rentals in Paris.

14 Juillet in Nice

A panoramic picture of rooftops in Nice with the Mediterranean sea as backdrop A panorama of typical French Riviera rooftops in Nice with the Mediterranean Sea in the background

If you want to celebrate Bastille Day à la Française and outside of Paris, there are many other cities to choose from. We’ve chosen to highlight Nice, because this beautiful city in the French Riviera will hold some amazing celebrations this year! Nice’s world-famous boardwalk, La Promenade des Anglais, will be closed to traffic for the evening of July 14. There will be seven stages, each with a different musical style, on the Promenade des Anglais between the historic outdoor Théâtre de Verdure in the Jardins Albert 1er to the east and the ultra-chic Négresco Hotel to the west. Whether you like world music, latin, jazz, pop, rock or “musette”, the popular “Prom’ Party” will keep you and 15,000 of your fellow revelers entertained all day and all night before spectacular fireworks over the Mediterranean Sea conclude the national holiday with panache.

Once the party’s over, France’s fifth largest city will keep you busy with its numerous historic, cultural and natural treasures. History buffs can delight in the colorful “Vieux Nice”, where the old, narrow passageways are still lined up with unique shops and boutiques, and lead to the popular flower market. Culture vultures can spend countless hours cruising the numerous museums, including the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the Musée Matisse, the Musée Matisse, the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, among many others. Lastly, nature lovers can marvel at the amazing location of the “Bay of Angels”, which is situated right between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains. Whether you want to take your time to explore the city or just want to celebrate Bastille Day, we still have vacation rentals in Nice available to make the most of your stay!

Where will you be celebrating Bastille Day this year?

Related apartment rental posts from New York Habitat:
  1. Celebrate Bastille Day in Paris
  2. Bastille Day in Nice: Parade, Music, Dancing and Fireworks
  3. Celebrate Bastille Day 2012: London and New York City
  4. Nice, France: nice from afar, nicer close by, and nicest from your own apartment!
  5. Bastille Day Storms New York!


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