Every year, the 14th of July marks a very special occasion in French history. This is Bastille Day: the day when, in 1789, the infamous Bastille Prison was stormed by angry mobs agitating against the King’s heavy-handed rule. The 14th of July is thus synonymous with the idea of the modern French republic.
Given the party atmosphere that permeates the whole country come Bastille Day, it’s certainly worth planning your travels to be in France on the anointed day. Here’s a quick rundown of the very best places in France for Bastille Day bombast.
Paris Bastille Day Celebrations
The capital of France is, fittingly, also the center of Bastille Day celebrations. The party begins on the 13th with a handful of balls and galas around the city. Then the 14th arrives, and Paris descends into a fever of joviality, with more balls and galas, plus military parades, fireworks, and humongous picnics (it’s customary to spend the second half of the day lounging around while consuming more food and wine than you could possible imagine). To be at the very heart of celebrations, the Champs-Elysees is the place to be.
Celebrations for Bastille Day in Avignon start late and end even later. Things don’t truly get going here until around 7:00 p.m. on the 14th; however, the party keeps on kicking well into the morning hours of the next day. Enjoy the live music on offer at the town hall (Place d’Horloge), dance at a ball, and end the night by watching a splendiferous fireworks display.
Fireworks are again the order of the day here, with a magnificent display going up over the city’s port area. However, you’ll only get there if you’ve managed to pace yourself throughout the day, as La Rochelle becomes buried under an avalanche of food and drink every Bastille Day. This is certainly a place that knows how to celebrate the 14th of July!
As with Paris, Poitiers celebrates the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille with a military Parade. Generally speaking, crowds attend this parade in the Place du Maréchel Leclerc during the day. Once the parade has past, the square becomes one large outdoor ball; festivities end with a great fireworks display that goes up from the Parc des Expositions.
Visually impressive Carcassonne hosts a fun-filled day of celebration every year, which is always attended by hundreds of thousands of happy revelers. Carcassone is particularly known for its fireworks celebration. Considered to be one of the very best in the world, it typically lasts for just under half an hour, which means Bastille Day certainly ends with a bang.