Bastille Day on 14 July is one of the most significant dates on the French calendar. You’ll find public celebrations throughout France, with the biggest taking place in Paris, where a spectacular fireworks display lights up the Champs-Élysées and an impressive military parade marches through the streets.
The annual celebrations mark an important piece of French history. On 14 July 1789, a group of French peasants stormed the Bastille – a state prison – intending to seize the arms and ammunition held there, prompting the start of the French Revolution and symbolising the end of the monarchy.
If you want to know more, here are 10 facts about Bastille Day we thought we’d share:
- In France Bastille Day is formally known as La Fête Nationale, and is sometimes referred to as Le Quatorze Juillet.
- Bastille Day is celebrated in many other countries worldwide including the UK, the US, Belgium, India, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, New Zealand and South Africa.
- Claude Monet’s Rue Montorgueil depicts the first known celebration of Bastille Day, held on 30 June 1878.
- Bastille Day was officially made a public holiday in 1880, and the military parade, which remains an annual Bastille Day tradition, first took place during this year too.
- It is tradition for the French president to address the nation during Bastille Day.
- Entry to the Louvre is free on Bastille Day.
- Locals flock to Champ de Mars to watch the famous Bastille Day fireworks, and stay there for the day enjoying wine parties and picnics.
- The largest Bastille Day celebration outside France takes place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where festivities last four days and a 43ft Eiffel Tower replica offers hourly light shows.
- Bastille is an alternate spelling of bastide (fortification), which is taken from the Provençal word bastida (built). Embastiller is also a verb used in French, which means “to establish troops in a prison.”
- You can dance in a fire station on Bastille Day. To mark the holiday, most Paris fire stations open their doors to the public on 13 and 14 July for dancing and live demonstrations.
If you want to experience Bastille Day for yourself, then head to Paris. You can check out our campsites near Paris for somewhere to stay.
Please also be aware that if you’re holidaying in France on this date, you can expect to find many shops and public transport services limited. And if you don’t like crowds, you’d be well advised to steer clear of Paris.