What it is:
France’s La Fete Nationale, or Bastille Day, falls on July 14 of every year. It’s celebrated throughout the country and French colonies worldwide with parades, fireworks, and parties. It’s similar to the Fourth of July in the U.S.
How it started:
The holiday commemorates the start of the French Revolution, during which the people challenged the king’s absolute—and arguably misused—power by storming the royal prison. In an ironic twist, none of the seven prisoners housed within were political prisoners, but rather petty criminals with good luck.
How to partake:
If you’re in Paris: Rather than fight the crowds at the city’s restaurants, pick up some light bites—quiche, fruit, and salads—and picnic outside. If possible, stake out a spot in the Champ de Mars garden—all the better to watch the fireworks over the Eiffel Tower after the sun goes down.
If you’re stateside: New York City’s General Assembly is recreating an original, 12-course Escoffier menu from 1900 in honor of the holiday. Highlights include roasted duck with truffle jus, along with classic Parisian fare like English pea soup and duck fat-fried potatoes. $65 per person
If you’re in Paris: The military parade down the Rue de Champs-Elysees, which has been held for over 130 years, is one of the holiday’s main highlights. Try to snag standing room somewhere between the l’Arc de Triomphe (where it begins) and Place de la Concorde (where it ends).
If you’re stateside: Many cities around the U.S. host their own street fairs or parties, so ask around your community. In the Tri-state area? Both Manhattan and Brooklyn host big Bastille Day celebrations. If the festivities inspire you to travel in real-time, we have stores in both cities!
If you’re in Paris: Admission to the Louvre is free on Bastille Day, so if you find that you have a few hours free between festivities, take advantage! Even if you only have time to take in a few of the highlights, it’s worth it.
If you’re stateside: Visit the Art Institute of Chicago, which is known for its prolific collection of French Impressionist paintings. Surrounded by Monets, Renoirs, Cezannes, and Seurats, it’s next best to being in France.
If you’re in Paris: Watch the fireworks against the majestic Parisian night sky. This year’s theme? ‘Guerre et paix,’ or ‘war and peace.’
If you’re stateside: Pick up some fireworks on post-July 4th clearance, a bottle of bubbly, and start planning for how you’ll spend next July 14th in France.