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  • 14 July

    14 July

    A date in Parisian revolutionary history that has become the national day, 14 July today combines the solemnity of military parades and the atmosphere of balls and fireworks. The Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 has been celebrated in France for over a century. © RMN-Grand Palais (Château de Versailles) / Gérard Blot

A date in Parisian revolutionary history that has become the national day, 14 July has now been celebrated in France for over a century.

During the first few months of the French Revolution, Paris was in the grip of great unrest. In Spring 1789, the Estates General refused to disband and became the Constituent National Assembly. In July, King Louis XVI summoned fresh troops and dismissed Necker, a popular minister. On the morning of 14 July, the people of Paris took up arms at Invalides and made their way to an old royal fortress, the Bastille. After a bloody exchange of fire, they took the fortress and freed the few prisoners locked inside it.

The Storming of the Bastille was the first victory for the people of Paris against a symbole of the Ancien Régime. The building was furthermore completely demolished over the following months.

The “Festival of the Federation” on 14 July 1790 celebrated the first anniversary of the insurrection with great pomp and circumstance. At the Champ de Mars in Paris, mass was preached by Talleyrand on the altar of the motherland.

Following a proposal from the deputy for the Seine, Benjamin Raspail, 14 July became the national day of the Republic. Today, the festival is as popular as ever. In Paris, the traditional military parade along the Champs-Elysées is prepared with incredible attention to detail. Balls, illuminations and firework displays are held throughout France.