Fireworks, firemen's parties, and military processions mark the bank holiday on 14 July when we commemorate the French Revolution's storming of the Bastille in 1789. Here are some ways to enjoy a unique day when the country is decorated in blue, white, and red!
Military parade down the Champs-Elysées
Air show, French guards, procession of renowned military schools, military vehicles... Each year, the French army demonstrates its diversity with an impressive spectacle that captivates French and foreign audiences.
The event takes place on the Champs-Elysées every morning since 1980, yet it was initially held at the western Paris' Longchamp race track. Visitors to Paris may view the troops marching from the Arc de Triomphe up onto the Place de la Concorde route.
The parade becomes more diplomatic with foreign guests like heads of state or government present.
Bastille Day, 14th July
Fireworks light up the evening of 14 July everywhere in France!
In Paris, the fireworks are launched from under the Eiffel Tower. You have two choices to enjoy the display: go straight to the Champ-de-Mars to see the show up close or head across the Seine river to the Trocadéro esplanade. You can also view the colourful sky and its reflection in the water from the bridges that cross the river. For a more secluded spot, opt for the promenade boats which park right in front of the Eiffel Tower for an up-close spectacle! And for the ultimate panoramic view, head up to the top of either the Montparnasse Tower or Montmartre hill.
Discover the top locations to witness the 14 July fireworks in Paris here
Elsewhere in France, there are many places with magnificent vantage points from which to watch the fireworks with the family or as a couple. Every town and village in France has its own fireworks display on the evening of July 14th or the day before. In Annecy, in the Alps, the show takes place on the lake, which is transformed into a colorful mirror. In Carcassonne, in the Occitanie region, the famous medieval city of Carcassonne is also a popular spot, with its imposing ramparts from which the rockets are fired! If you're on vacation by the sea, the show is just as spectacular. Whether on the beach at Etretat, in Normandy, or at the top of the famous chalk cliff, for a breathtaking view of the hollow needle... Unless you opt for a stroll along the Croisette, in Cannes on the Côte d'Azur. Every summer, this exceptional site hosts the Festival d'Art Pyrotechnique, bringing together the world's most talented pyrotechnicians.
After the fireworks, the festivities traditionally continue on the dance floor! Since 1880, when the 14th of July was declared a national holiday, almost every town and village in France has held a popular ball, either outdoors in public squares or in more unusual locations such as fire stations.
The first "firemen's ball" is said to have taken place on July 14, 1937 at the Montmartre fire station in Paris, following a spontaneous festive movement.
Good to know:
July 14 festivities, such as fireworks displays and balls, can be organized on the evening of July 14, but also on July 13, or even both. Find out before you go.
July 14 is a public holiday, so be sure to check that the places you want to visit are open.
On July 14th, the whole of France celebrates! So plan ahead if you want to be well placed to admire the fireworks, or enter the fire stations for the ball without waiting, in the big cities.