While Bastille Day is historically the celebration of the establishment of the constitutional monarchy in France by the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, a pivotal event in the beginning of the French Revolution, today’s Bastille Day celebrations range from fireworks to parties to picnics and events throughout the city.
Here are 10 of the top events to look forward to for this years 2012 celebration of Bastille Day!
Since 1880, there has been a military parade celebrating Bastille Day. The parade starts at 9am with a wide variety of military vehicles, soldiers and even an aerial show to get you in the mood for celebration.
2. Versailles Picnic
Music and regional specialties line the Grand Canal at Versailles where people gather, all in white, to relax and enjoy the day together like the kings and queens of France. Bring friends and food and kick back to enjoy Bastille Day like French royalty.
3. Visit the Louvre
Use Bastille Day as an excuse to get yourself down the the Louvre. Admission on the 14th is free for everyone!
4. Garden Party at Longchamps Racecourse
If Versailles seems a bit too far away, head over to the Longchamp Racecourse for their annual Garden Party. Admission is free and on the program me are races, games, music and sports. Stay into the evening and get down on the dance floor.
5. Free Ballet
The Palais Garnier is hosting a night of free ballet on the 14th at 7:30pm. The Opéra de Paris will be presenting La Fille Mal Gardée by Frédérick Ashton. Tickets are according to availability so arrive early to wait in line for tickets.
6. Neighborhood Dances
Some local town halls also through evening events on the night of the 13th. The Marie du 3e (2, rue Eugène Spuller – 3e) will be converted into an old village square with kiosks for snacks and drinks as well as music and dancing to the sounds to the band Dial Show. Festivities start at 7pm.
The Marie du 11e is going one step further with a rock and electro party in Place Léon Blum from 11pm – 2am.
7. Free Concerts
Head over to Bercy Village (Place des Vins de France – 12e) to check out two free outdoor concerts: Juliette at 8pm and Jupiter at 10:30pm on the 14th. If you are more into classical music, make your way to the 3e (Archives Nationales – Hôtel de Soubise – 3e) at 5pm to see Ilya Rahokovskiy playing selected works by Chopin, Schubert and Liszt in this free piano recital on the 14th.
8. Bal des Pompiers
Nothing is more perfectly Parisian than attending the Firemen’s Balls on the night of the 14th. Dancing firemen and non-stop DJs all night keep parisians of all age groovin’ until the wee hours of the morning. Buy your tickets in advance or at the door but prepare for crowds – these parties are the hottest in town.
9. Madonna at the Stade de France
If you don’t have your tickets yet – don’t think about it! This show has been sold out for a while but if you are one of the lucky ones who have managed to snag a ticket, make your way to the Stade de France for Madonna’s World Tour concert on the 14th from 8pm.
You simply can’t celebrate Bastille Day without fireworks! Head to the Champs de Mars early to snag a good spot and await the 2012 Bastille Day fireworks. This year the theme is Disco Years (’70s-’80s) and the show will start at approximately 10:45pm and last for 30 minutes.
Have a very happy and festive Bastille Day!