Sunday, July 14 is Bastille Day, which means fireworks at the Eiffel Tower and another round of festive picnicking on the Champs de Mars.
Here’s a roundup of some of the most popular and traditional Bastille Day festivities in Paris:
Fireman’s Ball: Single and looking to score a Frenchie fireman? Pick a number. All throughout Paris, the firehouses open on July 13 and 14 from 9pm to 4am so you can
hook up party with French firemen. I’ve actually never done this, but I hear it’s quite the scene. I also heard that the firemen in the 17th arrondissement are supposed to be one of the hottest. I can attest to that as I see them running in Parc Monceau every morning. Some of the fire stations have an entrance fee or accepts donations.
Champs-Élysées Military Parade: Around 9am on the 14th, the French military will be stationed at Place de l’Étoile/Champs-Élysées in preparation for their march down “les Champs” (as Parisians call it) around 10am. That’s when the troops will be joined by President Hollande for the opening event, air show and parade. 10am too early to get your act together to head there? You can just watch it on TV. Based on last year’s (televised) experience – the parade does not start on time.
The Louvre For Free: In the more than one year I’ve been living in Paris, I’ve only been to the Louvre once. That one time was on Bastille Day because I had friends in town and it’s always free on this day. To say I’m not a museum person is an understatement. So if you’re like me and don’t want to pay for the Louvre but feel obliged to go, or you’re really into the Louvre and going for free the first Sunday of every month isn’t enough for you, then Bastille Day is the day to do so.
Meet the Soldiers: After the Champs-Élysees military parade, the troops are dispatched throughout Paris (Place de la Nation, Place de l’Opéra, etc.) to “greet” the public and chat with them about their jobs, and the public can in turn meet the soldiers who defend their country. Last year, we came across the soldiers at Esplanade des Invalides and got to climb into a tank and take a photo with one of the soldiers.
Pre-Fireworks Concert: From 9:30pm to 11pm on the 14th, there will be a classical concert performed by the French National Orchestra and the Radio France Choir at the foot of the Eiffel Tower on Champs de Mars.The theme is “L’Amour à Paris”.
Bastille Day Fireworks: The fireworks display at Trocadéro is the highlight of Bastille Day. Beginning around 11pm and lasting approximately 30 minutes, you can best see the fireworks from the Champs de Mars (where I go) and Trocadéro. Last year’s theme was disco with fireworks going off to the tunes of songs like YMCA and It’s Raining Men. This year, it’ll be “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité…what that means in terms of music, I have no idea! I arrived around 8pm last year and watched as the sun set, the Eiffel Tower began to glow and the fireworks commenced.