14 Juil 2016

Bastille Day celebrations in Paris

Bastille Day

In Paris for Bastille Day celebrations?

Here’s a quick recap on what Bastille Day means for the French and a guide to what’s on in the city today.

Bastille Day is France’s National holiday and is celebrated every year on the 14th of July. But where does this celebration come from?

The French National Day commemorates the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. It’s important to understand what happened a few months earlier which would eventually lead to this event.

An Assembly of the Estates General was called by Louis XVI on May 1789. The Third Estate (common people) were invited to speak to the King to air their grievances over the two other Estates (Clergy and Nobility). They wished to break away to form a National Assembly which had to be guaranteed through the establishment of a Constitution.

The finance minister Mr Necker was dismissed on July 11th for his support of the Third Estate. In fear of imminent attack from the King’s soldiers and other mercenaries, the common people of Paris then stormed the Bastille, seeking to gain ammunition and gunpowder for the general populace. The Bastille was a fortress-prison in which held many jailed on the basis of arbitrary royal indictments. It was also known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government, which was seen as a clear sign of absolutism from the monarchy. Feudalism was subsequently abolished on the 4th of August and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen proclaimed on August 26th.

Nowadays, Bastille Day is a time for both commemoration and celebration. Here’s what’s not to be missed in Paris on this day:

In the morning, catch a glimpse of the French armed forces and the President of the Republic as they parade down the world’s most beautiful avenue, les Champs Elysées.

In the early evening, grab a drink and a dance at the local fire stations for the traditional Firemen’s Ball. Entrance is in most cases free but there is a barrel to make donations in honour to the dedicated work of these brave men and women.

The grand finale and most loved event is of course the fireworks’ display at the Eiffel Tower, which begins at 11pm. Find out where the best spot is to watch this colourful display here.



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