In Paris, a new spin on Bastille Day
Celebrated on 14 July each year, Bastille Day festivities include an impressive evening fireworks display with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. (Berthold Trenkel/Getty)
Celebrated on 14 July each year, Bastille Day – France’s national holiday – is marked with a range of festivities, all of which make sure the day – and night – goes off with a bang.
Traditionally, Paris events include a military parade along the iconic Champs-Elysées in the morning, complete with aircraft aerobatics and a speech from president François Hollande; and an impressive evening fireworks display with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. To get a good view and avoid the crowds, seek out high-up vantage points in the capital, such as Belleville Park or the roof garden at Montmartre’s Terrass Hotel. Afterwards there is music, dancing and drinking at the firemen’s balls – held in most of the barracks across the capital –with revelling going on until the early hours. Entrance is usually a small donation on the door.
But for those looking for something a bit different, several alternative events are also starting to pop up. Parisian restaurant guide Le Fooding is hosting La Cafête Nationale (a pun on the French for national holiday, Fête Nationale, mixed with the word cafe) at retro cafe Le Rouquet in St Germain. International chefs from England, Belgium, Lebanon and Japan will put their own spin on France’s party food par excellence: le hors d’oeuvre. Tickets are 15 euros and are available on Le Fooding’s website.
For party animals, an alternative to the firemen’s ball is Les Envahisseurs, a club night featuring big names on the dance scene including Duck Sauce and Kavinsky, held at the immense and iconic Grand Palais from midnight until 6 am. Tickets are 40 euros and should be bought in advance.
Kim Laidlaw is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.