How to best enjoy Bastille Day in Paris
Your Voyage A Paris is starting its weekly newsletter featuring a different theme each week, from temporary events to hidden-gems, from daytrips outside Paris to lifestyle. This being the first week of July, it’s all about Bastille Day! Bastille Day celebrates the taking of the most (in)famous Parisian prison La Bastille on July 14th, 1789. The symbol of the French Monarchy’s absolute power, it was almost empty at the time of its storming: only 7 inmates were freed that day! Yet it is considered as the starting point of the French Revolution and is celebrated with a national holiday, a military parade on the Champs-Elysees and superb fireworks that take place at the Trocadero gardens, by the Eiffel Tower.
Here are my tips to best enjoy Bastille Day in Paris: Put on your walking / running / hiking shoes and forget about taxis and buses. Metro can be an option yet some stations will be closed (like Concorde in the morning and Ecole Militaire in the evening) and the ones that are open around major events are going to be VERY crowed. More than any day, the best way to enjoy Paris is to walk, walk, walk as I explained in How to make the most of your Parisian experience part 1.
Watch the military parade on the Champs-Elysees: Starting at 10 am and lasting about 2 hours, this is a fun, family friendly event: feel the rumble of the tanks and the clatter of the Garde Republicaine’s horses or gaze in awe at the jet-fighters releasing their blue-white-red fumes.
Take advantage of free entrance at the Louvre on Bastille Day: The Louvre is free on Bastille Day so why not go for a quick visit to discover some of its lesser known treasures such as its ceilings. Unless you’d rather linger at Café Diane in the Tuileries gardens.
Enjoy a pic nic on the Champs de Mars before watching the fireworks: Pack a pic nic and head towards the Champs de Mars for a dinner al fresco! You won’t be the only one there so go early (6-7 pm) to secure a spot on the grass. If you don’t have the time to prepare your pic nic, you can have a bite at one of the cafes on Avenue de la Motte Picquet. Free concert on the Champs de Mars starts at 9:30 pm, with the fireworks starting at 11:00 pm for half an hour of magic. Closest open metro station is La Motte Picquet-Grenelle.