Tag Archives: Bastille Day



Celebrated widely across France and in French-speaking regions around the world, Bastille day or La Fete Nationale in French is the anniversary of the storming of Bastille on the 14th July 1789 and the turning point in the French revolution.

On the morning of the 14th July, the streets on the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs Elysees and onto the Place de Concorde all begin to fill up as everyone eagerly awaits the parade to begin.

Known to be one of the oldest and biggest military parades in Europe it contains service men and women from various units including cadets from military school, the French Navy and Foreign Legion and the parade ends with the Paris Fire Brigade.

Not only is the parade on the ground but also in the air as military aircraft take to the skies.  With the president of the Republic, other French officials and guests in attendance they take their ringside seats as the French President opens and reviews the troops to begin the day’s celebrations.

Everywhere you go in and around France, the streets and houses are decorated in bunting and banners of the tricolor flag and the locals have painted faces and are dressed in the blue, red and white for the occasion. The French moto can also be heard everywhere around Liberte Egalité Fraternite (liberty, equality, and fraternity) along with breaking into singing the French national anthem; La Maseillaise.

14 juillet 2011

After the parade everyone stays in place to witness the finale. The grand operatic works take to the stage at 9:30pm with a grand concert, then at 11pm the fireworks are set off from the base of the Eiffel Tower and the gardens of Trocadero. The uninterrupted 30-minute grand finale show fills the night sky with a kaleidoscope of colour and light.

For some, once the evening’s celebrations are over, they return home to spend the rest of the day with family and friends but for others, the night has just begun as this is when the traditional bals des pompiers (fireman’s ball) takes place. These are parties organised by the Paris fire stations in the different districts of the capital.

All around the world, French expatriates will be remembering and celebrating their freedom, so why not look around your area to see if there are any special events planned to take part in.




Bastille Day or “la fete national” (the national celebration) as it is known in France, is the anniversary marking the storming of the Bastille state prison on 14th July 1789. Also, on this day there is a celebration of the “Fete de la federation”, representing the first major event of the French revolution.

Celebrations take place all over France, not only on the Saturday but also the days leading up to the national holiday. The storming of the Bastille is treated in much the same way as American Independence Day and/or Canada Day. It is a very patriotic and festive event with a great deal taking place including military parades, communal meals, dances, parties and of course plenty of fireworks.

On Saturday, locals and visitors flocked to the Champs Elysees in Paris, lining the streets to get a good spot for the parade. With the president of France starting the parade, thousands of police, firefighters, service men and women from various units, cadets from military schools, the French navy and even the French foreign legion put on a unique and mesmerising display; known to be the largest and oldest military parade in Europe.

Not only was there action on the ground but also in the air. The Alpha Jets of Patrouille de France also put on a fantastic aerial display in both aeroplanes and helicopters, spraying smoke from the back of the engines in the “tri-colour” colours of red, white and blue matching the attire of all the locals. After the parade everyone heads of for a celebratory meal or picnic with family and friends or attending the huge free concert that the city Of Paris provides eagerly waiting for the evening’s festivities.

The fireworks display was the City’s only firework show of the year on the Champ De Mars at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Boats were filled to the brim and dotted all along the river Seine, crowds start to gather along the Seine and at the plaza at Trocadero across the river all trying to get a good spot for the fireworks display.

Around 11pm and with the Eiffel tower in the forefront, the massive pro musical display began, as silence fell amongst the crowd in complete awe of the fireworks. With lasers and lights on the tower the whole display lasted around 35 minutes undisturbed.

Bastille day fireworks


Bastille Day Fireworks

On the 14th July 1789 a historic event that would shake the very foundations of the French aristocracy forever. On the 16th May of the same year, King Louis XVI arranged a meeting to address the grievances of the poor, the church and the nobility.

Late eighteenth century France was a truly awful place where the poor were literally starving in the streets whilst the aristocracy ate and drank to excess and the upper echelons were attending to more than their fair share of debauchery.

This could not be allowed to continue so the king resurrected an old method of bringing everyone together as representatives of the ‘Commoner’ and reach some resolution to the already scandalous issues they faced. However, after some discussion, it was rumoured by some, that the government would try to suppress the poor so the meeting was left unresolved leading so discussions about the storming of the Bastille.

At the time, La Bastille was one of the most fortified buildings in Paris originally built to keep the British out. Later being developed into a prison for fifty captives, believed to have held various political miscreants and those who had less than complimentary words for the crown, the main reason for the invasion was to take into their possession the huge stashes of gunpowder and ammunition, just in case.

As it turned out, there were only seven detainees in the Bastille at the time, consisted of four forgers, two “lunatics” and a deviant aristocrat. None however were of any political importance.

As the thronged masses of the poor of Paris descended on the Bastille, Governor De Launay, commander of the Bastille, realised this was not going to go well and opened the Prison gates to prevent a massacre of both sides. Little did he know his actions would later lead to the abolishment of feudalism and bring into place the declaration of the rights of the man and of the citizen.

Tonight at 11pm a massive fireworks show lasting thirty-five minutes will take place at the “Trocadero” near to the tower, with the Eiffel Tower as the centerpiece, being used in this way for the first time since the millennium celebrations in 1999/2000.
With most events of this kind, usually a team of pyrotechnic specialists will have been working for the last few days putting all the equipment in place, securing firing systems, and getting everything ready for the appropriate time. But when you consider that the Eiffel tower is one of the planet’s most popular landmarks, you can’t just shut it down on a whim, so because of this teams of guys from “Group F” will have just FOUR HOURS to rig all the pyro for the show, hopefully the boys and girls that make up the French pyrotechnic and theatre group, best known for their 1998 World Cup fireworks show will have a head for heights.

This year’s theme is “Guerre et paix” or “war and peace”, as we remember those lost in the Great War.

The evening will start at 21:30 with a concert at the base of the Eiffel tower on the “Champ du Mars” with the fireworks show starting at 23:00, this will be televised for the millions of French not able to make it to the celebrations.

Any French wanting to stage their own celebrations this evening, will be here until 4pm today for collections, and have something to suit all budgets.