Fireworks above Paris

14th of July, the French National day

French Culture

The events marking the history of France mark the history of Europe itself, and probably, Europe wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for the movements and social changes that arose in France during the XVIII and XIX century.

The 14th of July is near and is an important festivity for France and the French people. On this day the fall of the Bastille and the French revolution are commemorated. It started to be the French national day from 1880 until today. The French revolution (initiated with the fall of the Bastille on 14th July 1789) meant a shift from an absolutist regime to a constitutional monarchy, led by a national assembly with elected representatives.

Liberty Guiding the People by Delacroix

By the end of that year, the different towns and regions united in federations which commemorated and promoted the new political structure. The Feast of the Federation (Fête de la Fédération), celebrated firstly on 14th of July 1790, is a national holiday honoring the unification of the French federations and the French revolution, the biggest socioeconomic change in Europe at the end of the XVIII century.

How do we celebrate the 14th of July nowadays?

There are two important events held in France during this day: the military parade and the public celebrations taking place all around France. Every year, French soldiers start marching at 10 am along the Champs-Élysées and end at Place de la Concorde.

Starting at around 9.30 pm, there is a concert offered by the marvelous French national orchestra and a chorus, just at the feet of the Eiffel Tower. It finishes around 23 pm when impressive massive fireworks over the Eiffel Tower start. People are invited to sit over the Champ-de-Mars park and enjoy the wonderful spectacle for 30 minutes. The lovers and the most romantic sometimes choose to go on a cruise in the Seine river and enjoy the fireworks show from the ship.

As you may be seen by now, this is an occasion when locals, visitors and students taking a French course in Paris gather to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the city. Though these are two of the most known events, the list goes on and on. Take note:

Every year, starting on the 13th of July, every fire station in Paris opens its doors and holds dances and parties until dawn. Some of these dances are for free, in others, you may have to leave a tip at the entrance or pay a ticket. In any case, the money raised is used for charity purposes. This tradition began in 1937 in Montmartre and has spread to the rest of France.

Firemen are highly respected and admired in Paris, and during these two nights they are offering champagne and beer to every neighbor or visitor in the mood for having a party and a good time. Some of the most famous fire stations are Rousseau, Sévigné and Des Arènes de Lutèce. If you go to any of these make sure to be there early not to wait in line!

This day is also special when it comes to museums and monuments. Although the 14th of July is a national holiday and shops are closed, every main museum and monument is open to the public. The Louvre Museum is not only open but has a free entrance. Imagine what is like to see the GiocondaThe Venus de Milo or the Liberty Leading the People on such an important day for French culture and history!

For people interested in French culture, language and history, 14th of July is a wonderful time to discover the most personal, intimate and at the same time bustling day in France. Emotional events, celebrations, concerts and museums. France reaches all its splendor and discloses it to all interested in having a memorable life experience.

Interested in French? Want to become closer to French life and culture?

Study French in Paris and enjoy the French National Day.