How to Celebrate Bastille Day in Paris 2024

Last Updated on July 14, 2024 by April Nicole

Bastille day in Paris
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Celebrating bastille day or La Fête Nationale in Paris is an experience like no other, offering a blend of history, culture, and festivity that captivates both locals and tourists alike.

As the French national holiday approaches, many travelers wonder how to make the most of this vibrant event, seeking the best spots and activities to truly immerse themselves in the celebrations.

I faced this same dilemma during my first visit and, after years of exploring the city, I’ve gathered invaluable insights on how to discover the magic of bastille day in Paris 2024.

From witnessing the grand military parade on the Champs-Élysées to enjoying the spectacular fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, my expertise will guide you through a memorable experience.

Join me as we uncover the best ways to celebrate this iconic day, ensuring you don’t miss out on any highlights.

Top Bastille Day in Paris Experiences

Searching for something unique to do on July 14 in Paris? Don’t wait to book—demand typically spikes on and around Bastille Day!

🇫🇷 Top activities and tours in Paris:

  1. Paris Seine River Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Cruise – my top pick!
  2. Skip-the-Line Paris Catacombs Special Access Tour
  3. Musée d’Orsay Skip-the-Line Impressionists Guided Tour – likely to sell out!

🇫🇷 Top activities outside of Paris:

  1. Versailles Palace – Classic Guided Tour – top choice
  2. Giverny and Monet House Half-Day Guided From Paris
  3. Disneyland Paris 1-Day Ticket – a favorite family-friendly activity

If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of Bastille day in Paris:

Historical Context of Bastille Day

Bastille Day, celebrated on July 14, marks the storming of the Bastille in 1789, a key event in French history symbolizing the fall of King Louis XVI’s absolute power and the rise of the people’s sovereignty. Amid a severe financial crisis and widespread discontent, the Third Estate declared itself the National Assembly, demanding reforms.

Rumors of the king’s troops amassing led Parisians to storm the Bastille, a fortress and prison. This spontaneous uprising sparked the French Revolution, leading to the republic’s establishment and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Bastille Day now celebrates liberty, equality, and national pride.

Bastille day in Paris
Henry Singleton: The Storming of the Bastille, Wikimedia Commons

The Origin of Bastille Day

The first Bastille Day, Fête de la Fédération, was celebrated on July 14, 1790, symbolizing French unity with events on the Champ de Mars attended by King Louis XVI. Over the years, Bastille Day has evolved to reflect France’s changing culture and politics. The 19th century highlighted nationalism with military parades and public festivities.

In the 20th century, elaborate celebrations included the famous Champs-Élysées military parade and post-war street parties. Today, Bastille Day features a mix of traditions and modern events, such as a presidential speech, Eiffel Tower fireworks, and global celebrations, showcasing the richness of French culture.

Morning Activities

Military Parade on the Champs-Élysées

Bastille day in Paris

The day begins with the iconic military parade along the Champs-Élysées. This event is a must-see and is attended by the French President and other dignitaries.

  • Description of the Parade: The parade features impressive displays of military precision, including marching troops, tanks, and aircraft flyovers.
  • Best Spots to View the Parade: For the best view, head to the western end of the Champs-Élysées near the Arc de Triomphe or the eastern end near Place de la Concorde.
  • Timing and How to Get There: The parade starts at 10:00 AM, but it’s wise to arrive early to secure a good spot. Use the metro to avoid traffic congestion.

Daytime Festivities

Museum Visits

Bastille day in Paris

Many museums in Paris offer free entry on Bastille Day, making it a perfect opportunity to explore the city’s rich cultural heritage.

  • Free Entry to Many Museums: Take advantage of free admission to iconic museums such as the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and Centre Pompidou.
  • Recommended Museums to Visit:
    • Louvre Museum: Home to the Mona Lisa and countless other masterpieces.
    • Musée d’Orsay: Renowned for its extensive collection of Impressionist art.
    • Centre Pompidou: A hub for modern and contemporary art.
  • Planning Your Museum Trip: Arrive early to avoid long lines, and plan your visit to see your must-see exhibits first.

Enjoy a French Revolution Walking Tour

Exploring Paris through a French Revolution walking tour is an enriching way to understand the historical significance of Bastille Day and the events that shaped modern France.

  • Overview: A French Revolution walking tour takes you through the heart of Paris, visiting key sites associated with the Revolution. These tours are typically guided by knowledgeable experts who provide in-depth commentary on the historical events and their impact.
  • Key Highlights:
    • Place de la Bastille: Start at the former site of the infamous Bastille prison. Today, it’s a bustling square marked by the July Column.
    • Palais Royal: A meeting place for revolutionaries and a site where speeches and pamphlets advocating for change were distributed.
    • Conciergerie: Part of the former royal palace, it served as a prison during the Revolution, holding notable prisoners like Marie Antoinette.
  • Booking Your Tour: Ready to step back in time and explore the heart of revolutionary Paris? 👉 Book your French Revolution walking tour today for an unforgettable journey through history!

Picnics in the Park

Enjoying a picnic in one of Paris’s beautiful parks is a relaxing way to celebrate Bastille Day.

  • Popular Picnic Spots:
    • Champ de Mars: Offers stunning views of the Eiffel Tower.
    • Jardin des Tuileries: Located near the Louvre, perfect for a central picnic.
    • Bois de Boulogne: A bit further out, but offers vast green spaces and serene lakes.
  • What to Bring for a Perfect Picnic: Pack a blanket, some wine, cheese, baguettes, fresh fruit, and pastries. Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat!
  • Local Delicacies and Where to Buy Them: Visit local markets such as Marché Bastille or Rue Cler for fresh produce and gourmet treats.

Evening Celebrations

Fire Department Balls (Bals des Pompiers)

One of the unique traditions of Bastille Day is the Fire Department Balls held at various fire stations across Paris.

  • History and Tradition: These balls began in the 1930s as a way for firefighters to fundraise and celebrate with the community. Today, they are a beloved part of the festivities.
  • Locations and Timings: Balls typically start on the evening of July 13 and continue into the early hours of July 14. Check local listings for participating fire stations.
  • Tips for Enjoying the Festivities: Wear comfortable shoes for dancing, bring some cash for drinks, and be ready to join in the fun with locals and visitors alike.

Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower

The highlight of Bastille Day is the spectacular fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower.

  • Detailed Schedule of the Fireworks Show: The show starts around 11:00 PM and lasts about 30 minutes. It’s a breathtaking display of light and music.
  • Best Viewing Spots:
    • Trocadéro: Directly across the river from the Eiffel Tower, offers a fantastic view.
    • Champ de Mars: Get up close with a picnic on the lawn.
    • Seine River Cruise: For a unique perspective, consider booking a river cruise.
  • Tips for Arriving Early and Securing a Good Spot: Arrive several hours early, bring snacks and drinks, and be prepared for large crowds. Remember, the earlier you arrive, the better your view will be.

Concert at the Champ de Mars

Before the fireworks, enjoy a free concert at the Champ de Mars.

  • Information About the Concert Lineup: The concert features a mix of classical and contemporary music performed by renowned artists.
  • What to Expect at the Concert: A lively atmosphere with performances leading up to the fireworks. Bring a blanket or chairs and settle in for a musical evening.
  • Tips for Enjoying the Concert: Arrive early to get a good spot, bring your picnic essentials, and enjoy the music leading up to the fireworks.

Dining and Nightlife

Restaurants and Cafés

Paris offers an array of dining options to enhance your Bastille Day experience.

  • Recommendations for Dining on Bastille Day:
    • Le Jules Verne: For an upscale dining experience inside the Eiffel Tower.
    • Le Comptoir du Relais: A classic bistro with a lively atmosphere.
    • Chez Janou: Perfect for a Provençal meal in a charming setting.
  • Special Bastille Day Menus: Many restaurants offer special menus for the occasion. Check ahead and make reservations to ensure a table.
  • Reservations and Planning Ahead: Book your table in advance as restaurants fill up quickly on Bastille Day. Opt for outdoor seating if possible to soak in the festive ambiance.

Nightclubs and Bars

Continue the celebration into the night with Paris’s vibrant nightlife.

  • Best Places to Continue the Celebration:
    • Rex Club: Famous for its electronic music scene.
    • Le Baron: A chic nightclub with a trendy crowd.
    • La Bellevilloise: Offers live music and a relaxed vibe.
  • Special Bastille Day Events: Look for themed parties and events at local clubs and bars.
  • Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Night Out: Stay aware of your surroundings, travel in groups, and plan your transportation ahead of time.

Travel Tips

Navigating Public Transport

Navigating Paris on Bastille Day can be both exciting and challenging due to the festive atmosphere and large crowds. Here’s how to make your travel as smooth as possible:

  • Use the Metro and Buses: Paris has an extensive and efficient public transport system. The metro is often the quickest way to get around, especially when roads are closed for parades and events. Major metro lines like Line 1, Line 6, and Line 8 will be particularly useful.
  • Plan Your Route: Download a map of the metro system and plan your route in advance. Apps like Citymapper and RATP can provide real-time updates and route suggestions.
  • Expect Crowds: Popular stations near the Champs-Élysées, Eiffel Tower, and other major attractions will be very crowded. Be patient and allow extra time for travel.
  • Consider Walking: If the weather is pleasant, walking can be a great way to soak in the festive atmosphere. Many attractions are within walking distance of each other, and you can enjoy the city’s beautiful architecture and bustling street life.
  • Use Vélib’ Bikes: Paris’s bike-sharing system, Vélib’, is a convenient and eco-friendly option for short trips. There are stations throughout the city where you can rent and return bikes. Remember to check for available bikes and parking spots on the Vélib’ app.

Accommodation Tips

Choosing the right place to stay can greatly enhance your Bastille Day experience:

  • Central Locations: Staying in a central location like Le Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, or the Latin Quarter will put you close to the action and reduce travel time. These neighborhoods are also rich in history and charm.
  • Book Early: Accommodation in Paris fills up quickly for Bastille Day, so book well in advance to secure your preferred location and avoid high prices.
  • Look for Special Offers: Some hotels offer special packages for Bastille Day that include views of the fireworks or access to exclusive events. Check hotel websites and travel agencies for deals.
  • Choose the Right View: If possible, book a hotel with a balcony or terrace that offers a view of the Eiffel Tower or other landmarks. This can provide a private and comfortable spot to watch the fireworks.

Safety Tips

Staying safe and comfortable is crucial for an enjoyable Bastille Day:

  • Stay Hydrated: July in Paris can be hot, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. Public fountains (fontaines Wallace) are scattered around the city and provide free drinking water.
  • Protect Your Belongings: Large crowds can attract pickpockets. Keep your valuables secure, use anti-theft bags, and be aware of your surroundings.

France Travel Planning 🇫🇷

Accommodation 🛌

  • Booking.com – Find diverse accommodations, enjoy easy booking with great deals, and rely on real reviews and 24/7 support.
  • Expedia.com – With its user-friendly interface, it simplifies the process of booking hotels and holiday packages to France.
  • VRBO.com – Your go-to platform for unique and comfortable vacation rentals in France.

Transportation 🚘

  • DiscoverCars.com – Offers a seamless booking experience, ensuring you find the ideal car for your adventures in France.
  • GetTransfer.com – Is the ultimate solution for your travel transfer needs, offering an efficient, flexible service and comfortable transportation.
  • Trainline.com stands as a quintessential tool for savvy travelers seeking to navigate France’s extensive rail network with ease and confidence.
  • Skyscanner.com – Simplifies your travel planning with its user-friendly interface, offering a comprehensive comparison of flights.

Attractions, Activities and Tours 🇫🇷

  • Viator.com – Stands out as a trusted resource for travelers seeking unparalleled experiences across the globe.
  • GetYourGuide.com – Offers an extensive collection of tours, activities, and attractions in France.
  • ParisCityVision.com – This tour company specializes in crafting exceptional experiences across Paris and France.

Communication 📱

  • Orange Sim Card – Discover seamless connectivity on your French travels with an Orange Holiday Europe Sim Card, a top choice for tourists.
  • Airalo.com – The world’s first eSIM store that solves the pain of high roaming bills by giving travelers access to eSIMs (digital SIM cards).

Travel Insurance ✈️

  • SafetyWing.com – Travel with peace of mind knowing you’re protected in almost every corner of the world.
  • Travel Insurance Master – Visit their website to discover the ideal insurance plan that aligns with your travel dreams.

These are only a few of my favorites; for more, see my comprehensive guide to the top travel booking websites for France.

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