Bastille Day

Next Sunday, 14 July 2024

14th of July, also known as the Bastille Day, is marked as one of the revolutionary days of Paris. It is a statutory holiday in France. On 14th July 1789, the storming of the Bastille occurred. 

On the anniversary of the act in 1790 or 'Fête de la Fédération', Bastille Day was celebrated and is still commemorated in France. Military parades, dances, and fireworks are part of the celebration on this day.

Bastille Day Celebration
Annual parades are a part of the Bastille Day Celebrations in France


Storming of the Bastille- July 14, 1789

Bastille was initially built as a medieval fortress but became a state prison soon. It was a symbol of the harsh rule of the Bourbon monarchy. Prisoners, with or without trial, were held there as per the King's order.

The early months of the French Revolution were filled with much distress and disturbance in Paris. On the sunrise of 14th July 1789, the storming of the Bastille was initiated. A revolutionary mob from the Faubourg Saint-Antoine took charge of the revolt and attack. The attack on Bastille was a strategic and iconic movement against the royal representative in central Paris.

The people of Paris seized all weapons from the armory in the Invalides and marched into the ancient Royal fortress, Bastille. Many firing rounds took place, after which the people could finally enter the fort. By late afternoon, they successfully freed the seven prisoners held there. This was the first movement of the French Revolution that carved a significant date in French history.

The fortress or prison was pulled down between 14th July 1789 and 14th July 1790. Later miniature Bastille replicas were made with 83 stones from the original fortified prison. The medieval fortress was situated in Place de la Bastille. 

Fête Nationale- July 14, 1790

In France, Bastille Day is also called 'Fête Nationale',  or 'le quatorze Juillet', or France Day of Defiance. Bastille Day is not directly connected with the 14th July 1789 storming of the Bastille. The day was first celebrated a year later with the 'Fête de la Fédération' (celebrating the French Revolution) at the Champ-de-Mars. Champ-de-Mars was in the outskirts, far away from the center of Paris.

A convenient place and a stadium were set up in Champ-de-Mars by thousands of volunteers. Steps for 100,000 spectators were built. On 14th July 1790, thousands of people gathered together in the stadium to celebrate the unity of their new French nation and their national reconciliation. The Commune of Paris suggested the National Assembly organize a 'general federation.' 14th of July, or Bastille Day, is also the Independence Day of France.

However, in subsequent years, the commemoration of this day was withheld. Later in 1880, 6th July, Bastille Day was declared an official holiday in France. It took 91 years for 14th July to become a statutory holiday.

People celebrated the day with speeches, fireworks, military parades, special illuminations, and public revelry. The Bastille Day military parade is known to be the largest and oldest regular military parade in Europe. The old slogan "Long live the 14th of July!" or "Vive le 14 juillet!" continued being an essential part of the celebration.

The national holiday is also celebrated in all former French colonies and places linked with France. In the year 1924, the first Bastille Day Ball took place. People gathered to make a new move and celebrate this day. Henceforth, it has become an annual tradition in France. 

Bastille Day Celebration

  • Military Parade on the Champs-Elysées is a traditional custom in Paris. It is organized in the morning and is attended by the President, French Senior Officials, and Foreign Guests every year.
  • Fireworks are also a common occurrence on July 13 and 14. The most famous firework display takes place at Champ-de-Mars in Paris
  • Musical performances, dances, and communal meals are also part of the celebrations on this day. 
Bastille Day
Bastille Day

Bastille Day - Next years

Monday, 14 July 2025

Tuesday, 14 July 2026

Wednesday, 14 July 2027

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