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How to celebrate Bastille Day in Paris 2019

Sunday 14th July 2019 marks Bastille Day, perhaps the most important public national holiday in the French calendar. Millions of people all over France will turn out to mark the occasion with parades, fireworks and parties, and the people of Paris are no exception. We have written a guide to the most important events of the day, to help you have the best Bastille Day celebrations possible!

A quick history

Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison on 14th July 1789: a pivotal moment at the start of the French Revolution in which the people of France decided they no longer wanted to be ruled over by the absolute power of the monarchy. The revolution culminated in the beheading of King Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie-Antoinette, and the first steps on a new path to democracy for the people of France.

Military Parade

Each year, Bastille Day in Paris begins with a military parade by the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysées. The president, Emmanuel Macron, arrives at around 10am, with the parade beginning at around 10.45am. The public event includes a formal military exercise and fanfare, a spectacular parade by service men and women, and a flyover of military aircraft trailing the colours of the French flag. Make sure to get there early to secure a spot, as the crowds of people are bound to be huge.
See our selection of city apartments near the Champs Elysées.


Many people then like to enjoy the summer’s day with a picnic in the Champ-de-Mars, or any other park, with their friends and families, and bakeries and grocers will open in the morning so that the people of Paris can buy their picnic food. Each year, some of the city’s best museums open for free to the public on Bastille Day, including the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, so it can be the best opportunity to soak up some culture while the city’s main attractions are quieter than usual. Whatever you choose to do, there is sure to be a great atmosphere in the city with everyone out in the street enjoying the day.


The main event of Bastille Day in Paris each year is probably the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. The most popular place to make the best of this free spectacle is the Champ-de-Mars (as long as you don’t mind sharing the space with around 1 million other people) but you could also head to the banks of the Seine, an apartment or hotel balcony, the Montparnasse tower or further afield up by the Sacre Cœur or the Parc de Belleville to watch them. The evening kicks off at 9.30pm with a free concert at the foot of the Eiffel Tower from the Orchestre National de France and Chœur de la Maîtrise de Radio France. The fireworks start at 11pm and last for half an hour. Get down early (really, really early) for the better spots with a clear view. If you feel like making an evening of it, there are several river cruises which provide a tour down the Seine on 14th July with dinner and a view of Paris’s best attractions, followed by a guaranteed view to watch the fireworks from the river.
See our selection of apartments near the Eiffel Tower.

Fireman’s ball

On the nights of 13th and 14th July each year, fire stations across Paris will open their doors to the public, hosting huge parties that are not to be missed. The soirées can go on all night, some until 4am, and involve plenty of dancing, drinking, and music. Some have an admission fee, while others are free but accept donations, and all profits go to supporting Paris’s firefighters. These events are usually packed, so find the best one for your night; you can read a list of them here.

Things to remember

To enjoy the best Bastille Day celebrations possible, there are a couple of things to remember:

  • Travelling to and from the fireworks can be a bit tricky, and if possible it’s best to go somewhere within walking distance of where you’re staying. Metro stations within two miles of the Eiffel Tower will be either not open or heaving with people, so consider walking to use public transport further afield.

  • Watch out for pick pockets! It’s best to take as few things with you as possible and make sure your bag is somewhere where you can see it. Avoid backpacks and don’t make mistakes like putting anything important in your back pockets.
    We hope that this guide has helped you plan how best to enjoy your Bastille Day celebrations. Every year, the atmosphere in Paris is one of excitement and celebration, and there is so much going on throughout the day and night for you to enjoy. Whether you head to the Champ-de-Mars to enjoy the fireworks, share the day in a different park with friends and family, or choose to spend the night on a dinner cruise down the Seine, we hope you have a great 14th July!

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    Want to make the most of the celebration and stay near the action? Read our list of city apartments near the Eiffel Tower.