In France, the 14th of July is known as La Fête Nationale, also known as Journée de la Bastille, or Bastille Day. Le 14 julliet is known for the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, which was the historic turning point in the French Revolution. Today, celebrations are held throughout France, and Europe’s largest military parade is held on the famous Champs Elysée Avenue in Paris. Normally, France’s current President (Emmanuel Macron) is present, along with many other officials, both French and foreign (US President and First Lady Donald and Melania Trump were present at this year’s celebrations.)
The Champs Elysée in Paris
This year, my friend Jo celebrated her 25th birthday in Paris. A bunch of us rented an AirBnb (click here for 20€ off your first stay!) just a fifteen minute walk from the Gare du Nord, and spent the weekend celebrating both France’s independence as well as Jo’s day of birth.
The night of the 14th, we made our way down to Champs de Mars for the epic lights show and fire works display at the Eiffel Tower (and honestly, it was fantastic.) There were a ton of people but we still managed to watch and enjoy quite comfortably. This year, after last year’s Nice attacks, the buildings were filled with snipers and the streets with armed police officers.
However, I must admit that the best part about celebrating Bastille Day in France, and especially in Paris, are the Firefighters’ Balls, or Les Bals des Pompiers. Basically, on the 13th and 14th of July, after the fireworks, the firefighters in Paris open up their fire houses to the public, and basically host a big rave. They are free admission and the party is usually open from 8 pm – 4 am. We had to queue quite a long time before actually getting in, but once we were in, it was a blast. There were food trucks, bars with beer, wine, and cocktails, and of course a DJ and an outdoor dance floor. (The highlight of the evening were the shirtless, crowdsurfing firemen.) This was one of the most fun and unique things I have ever done in Paris. I highly recommend going to a Firefighters’ ball if you find yourself in Paris on Bastille Day.
The only photo of the Firefighters’ Ball, or Le Bal des Pompiers
We partied hard and danced the night away until bar close. We ubered home around 4 am, and spent the next day touring Paris via Bateaux Mouches (which I managed to bargain and get us a group price) and the Arc de Triomphe (which was free with my Pass Education).
A view from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Overall it was a fantastic weekend in Paris, and a fine way to kickstart the summer.
Have you ever been to the Bal des Pompiers, or celebrated Bastille Day in France or Paris?