I was so excited to experience my first Bastille Day in Paris. A friend told me that besides the military parade in the morning and a Fireman’s Ball the night before, people picnic on the Champs de Mars to watch the fireworks at night. Since me and my friends couldn’t get our act together to get to the Champs-Elysées for the military parade, and we ended up enjoying a late dinner the night before, we decided we had to at least have a Bastille Day picnic and wait for the fireworks, so that’s exactly what we did.
If you’re ever in Paris on Bastille Day, I highly recommend you go. Not only was it fun to just veg out on the grass, but the fireworks were gorgeous! It was a ’70s disco theme, so the music was a bit cheesy but upbeat. Luckily, I live fairly close enough to the Eiffel Tower, so we were able to take a little 45 minute stroll afterwards.
Here are a couple tips for picnicking on the Champs de Mars on Bastille Day:
- No alcohol is allowed and the armed French police do check bags. Luckily, I used my American guile and clever distraction techniques, and was able to sneak in two bottles of wine. Whew!
- Get there early! We arrived around 8pm and were lucky to find a decent spot. Late arrivers weren’t quite as lucky and ended up standing or sitting on the non-grassy area.
- Food markets are open in the morning. I was worried we’d have to buy food and wine the day before, but luckily, the little food stores were open.
- Not exactly related to picnicking – but the Louvre is free on Bastille Day, so this is your chance to go. But make sure you go through the entrance via the metro station and not through the pyramid. We whizzed right in that way.
Here’s a link to more information on Bastille Day festivities.