Bastille Day in Paris
France’s national holiday commemorates the storming of the Bastille at the start of the French Revolution. Crowds line the Champs-Elysées for a military parade led by the President, and Parisians party until dawn as fireworks explode over the Trocadéro.
The evening before the big day is spent dancing in the Bastille square and at numerous balls that are organised around the city. Worth a look-in are the many parties held by the fire service in their stations, at which the firefighters themselves - decked out in full uniform - are usually the star attraction.
You can also participate in the Incredible Picnic, one of the largest in the world, taking place in some 20 of France’s departments.
On the big day itself, the big parade on the Champs-Elysées sees fighter jets fly in formation as top military brass march from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Condorce. Bringing up the rear and receiving the loudest applause are the fire brigade. It’s wise to arrive early if you want to get a good view.
The partying continues all day and later thousands of people come together again at the Champ-de-Mars to watch the fireworks ar the Trocadéro. On top of all that, most bars and clubs stage their own celebrations, so take your pick. If you’re not in Paris, don’t worry: every single village in France has its own dance, with champagne, fireworks, street fun and lots more.
Although nothing now remains of the Bastille fortress itself, the place where it stood is marked by a column on top of which one can see a gilded statue of an angel carrying a torch that symbolizes the Génie de la liberté.
Also situated around this place is the Opéra de la Bastille, commissioned by French President François Mitterand to the Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott.
For more information on Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, visit the fire service website at www.pompiersparis.fr