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This is how the locals celebrate Bastille Day in France

The first way to celebrate Bastille Day is to recognise its name in France: ‘La fête nationale’ (the national holiday). A symbol of liberation and national unity, every 14 July celebrates the moment Louis XVI’s oppressive, absolutist monarchy was abolished in favour of a democracy; thanks to the Storming of Bastille (14 July 1789) and Festival of the Federation exactly a year later.

Both shaped modern day France and handed ‘liberté’ (freedom) to all. And there’s no greater cause for celebration than that! It’s why locals attend parades, gaze at fireworks shows above the Eiffel Tower and party through the night in Paris’ fire stations.

Sounds fun, right? So keep reading to find out how to celebrate Bastille Day the French way.

Here’s how to celebrate Bastille Day (La fête nationale) in France:

The Paris Parade

Nothing says ‘party!’ like parade. And nowhere is one bigger than in Paris on 14 July. From 10am, national flags wave and patriotic spirit builds as over 25,000 locals gather for the oldest standing and largest military parade in Europe, (a tradition dating back to 1880). If you find yourself in Paris in 2022, watch in awe as 4,300 soldiers, 200 Republican Guard horses and 221 tanks march from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde over the course of an hour to celebrate Bastille Day.

And there’s more. The roaring sounds of 73 military jet planes naturally turn your eyes up to the white, blue and red colours filling the sky. Symbolising liberté (freedom), égalité (equality) and fraternité (fraternity). Simply magic.

The Fireman’s Ball

Have you ever partied in a fire station through the night? We didn’t think so. That’s why you need to throw yourself into one of France’s oldest (and most fun) ways to celebrate Bastille Day: the ‘bals des pompiers’ (Fireman’s Ball). Starting at 9pm, around 40 fire stations in Paris and the Île-de-France region fill with lively music, dancing, happy conversations, free-flowing drinks and even gymnastic performances.

And of course, firemen in full uniforms are the life and soul of the party. So as champagne corks fly, drop a donation into the bucket to support the fire stations. Plus prepare to leave in the early hours with new friends, fantastic memories and a love for French freedom. Magnifique!

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Fireworks over the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel tower is heart-swelling even on a rainy day. So imagine fireworks filling the sky with red, blue and purple splashes to celebrate Bastille Day. We suggest picking your spot in the nearby Trocadéro Gardens just before 11pm to gaze at the show with friends. The atmosphere is truly special in one of France’s best ‘quatorze juillet’ (14 July) traditions. So of course, you’ll want to soak it all in with an exquisite glass of French wine in hand.

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Admire art in the Louvre (for free)

The Louvre

Art-lovers, this one is for you. The Louvre is the pearl of the art world and a point of pride for locals. That’s why (for the only day in the year), entry is free on Bastille Day. Trust us when we say – browsing any of these 35,000 works of art (and especially the Mona Lisa) is a bucket-list worthy experience for all travellers. So take a break from the sun and lose yourself in a different world.

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Quality time with family

From street parties to sunbathing on Nice’s beaches and sipping delicious wine in Burgundy’s vineyards – France’s rich variety means there are several ways to celebrate Bastille Day. But above all – locals try to be with family and friends. So whether you crave an all-night fire station party or simply a home-cooked meal, these’s a happy la fête nationale activity for everyone.

Symphony concert at Champ de Mars


Head to Champ de Mars park at the foot of the Eiffel tower at 9.15pm to bring a wonderful celebration to a close with music. Here, world-class musicians from France (and abroad), including the Orchestre National de France, Chœur de Radio France and the Maîtrise de Radio France treat you to spine-tinglingly good sounds. All topped off with a crowd rendition of ‘La Marseillaise’ – the national anthem of France, written in 1792 by army officer Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle.

How will you celebrate Bastille Day this year? Tell us in the comments below!

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