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What makes Bastille Day or French National Day so widely celebrated? Behind its festive fireworks, joyful parades, or public revelry, the origin of this special day holds a historical significance to its people.
Join us on this exciting journey as we explore the significance of Bastille Day and the cultural tapestry surrounding this beloved French holiday. Stay tuned until the end for a fun round of trivia and interesting facts!
Table of Content
|What is National Day in France?||The 14th of July|
|Who started Bastille Day?||Benjamin Raspail|
|What is Bastille Day meaning?||French national holiday that commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison and the beginning of the French Revolution|
What is Bastille Day and Why is it Celebrated?
July 14 signifies Bastille Day, an annual event that honours the storming of the Bastille in 1789, a significant event during the initial stages of the French Revolution.
It is a historic date in French history: 1790’s “Fete de la Federation”. This day occurred to celebrate one year after the destruction of the Bastille Fortress on July 14, 1789 – and herald a new era for France by creating the basis for its establishment of the First Republic.
On July 14th 1789, an outraged mob from Faubourg Saint-Antoine led by revolutionary leaders launched an audacious attack against the Bastille, as a symbolic statement against royal authority at the heart of Paris.
This bold act became known as the Bastille Day Riot. By late afternoon, seven prisoners held within the Bastille had been freed; this act quickly became one of the landmarks in French history.
From July 14, 1789, to July 14, 1790, the fortified prison was dismantled. Its stones were used in building Pont de la Concorde bridge and carving small replicas of the Bastille for different provinces. Today’s iconic Place de la Bastille stands on this former fortress site.
Bastille Day honours the transformative power of the French Revolution and marks a day to celebrate freedom, equality, and brotherhood across the nation. This annual commemoration represents unity and the unflagging spirit of French people everywhere.
What is Behind Bastille Day?
Following the storming of the Bastille, the people of Paris seized weaponry and ammunition, marking their first triumphant step against the oppressive “Ancien Régime” or Old Regime.
This significant event signalled a pivotal victory for the people, empowering them to confront the royal troops. Eventually, the Bastille fortress was razed to the ground, erasing its imposing presence from the cityscape.
Contrary to popular belief, Bastille Day, or ‘la Fête Nationale’ in French, does not directly commemorate the specific event of the storming of the Bastille, but about a monumental gathering known as the Fête de la Fédération, or the Feast of the Federations, took place on the Champ de Mars on July 14, 1790, to inaugurate a new era and dissolve absolutism. Thousands of people from all provinces across France were present to celebrate it.
In the years that followed, the celebrations on July 14 became less prominent and gradually faded away. However, on July 6, 1880, the Parliament enacted a significant law, establishing July 14 as a national holiday for the Republic.
How to Enjoy Bastille Day Celebrations?
There are many fun Bastille Day activities you can enjoy, as it is one of the most important national holidays for the people. If you are in France then you are in for a treat!
#1. Time for well-deserved breaks
As a cherished national holiday, Bastille Day offers French revellers a well-deserved break from work, and the festivities kick off with spirited celebrations the night before. On an actual day, the 14th, the atmosphere is relaxed, resembling a leisurely Sunday for many.
While some choose to catch up on sleep, others take part in lively parades that grace local town centres.
#2. Join a Bastille Day party with food and drinks
A hallmark of Bastille Day is the conviviality shared among families and friends who gather for delightful picnics.
Traditional fare like crusty baguette🥖, a wide selection of cheeses, French desserts, and perhaps a touch of champagne grace the picnic blankets, creating a festive culinary experience.
Meanwhile, restaurants embrace the occasion by offering special Quatorze Juillet menus, inviting patrons to savour special dishes that capture the essence of the celebration.
#3. Bastille Day fireworks
Across France, the night sky ignites in a dazzling display of fireworks on the enchanting evening of July 14th. From the rustic villages of Brittany to far-reaching corners of the country, vibrant bursts of colours and resounding claps light up the darkness.
The pinnacle of the fireworks extravaganza unfolds against the iconic backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a stunning display that illuminates the night sky in vibrant colours of red, white, and blue.
Join the lively atmosphere at the Champ de Mars, where a free music concert commences around 9 PM, followed shortly by the awe-inspiring fireworks show.
#4. Play a round of Pétanque
It’s not a July 14 celebration if you don’t see at least one group of people playing Pétanque (or boules) at the park. It’s a game accessible to all. To play this you will need a boules pitch specifically and heavy balls or boules in French that are often silver-coloured. You can learn the rules here.
#5. Watch the oldest military parade
Don’t forget to watch the military parade on the morning of July 14th as it marches down Paris’s Champs-Elysées. This nationally televised spectacle, accompanied by the resounding anthem La Marseillaise, showcases the oldest and largest military parade in Europe.
You should at least an hour before the 11 AM festivities to secure a front-row seat and experience the awe-inspiring displays of military pageantry, fly-overs, and proud traditions that embody the spirit of Bastille Day.
Test Your Knowledge – Bastille Day
Now it’s time for a few rounds of Bastille Day quizzes to see how well you remember this French-beloved holiday. You can also learn more fun facts (and probably some French) along the way!
- On what date is Bastille Day celebrated? (Answer: July 14)
- What is the Bastille? (Answer: A fortress prison in Paris)
- Who led the storming of the Bastille? (Answer: The revolutionaries)
- On Bastille Day, you will often hear the national anthem of France. It is known as … (Answer: La Marseillaise)
- In what year did Bastille Day become a national holiday in France? (Answer: 1880)
- In what year did the storming of the Bastille prison take place? (Answer: 1789)
- What landmark is a focal point of Bastille Day celebrations? (Answer: The Eiffel Tower)
- What colour is featured prominently on Bastille Day? (Answer: Blue, white and red – the colours of the French flag)
- What flower is a national symbol of France and Bastille Day? (Answer: The Iris)
- What other French national holidays are celebrated around the same period as Bastille Day? (Answer: French National Day (June 21) and Feast of the Federation (July 14, 1790))
- The storming of the Bastille was the beginning of a historic period in France. This period is known as … (Answer: The French Revolution)
- Who was the King of France at this time? (Answer: Louis XVI)
- Who was the Queen of France at this time? (Answer: Marie-Antoinette)
- How many prisoners were found locked in the Bastille when it was stormed? (Answer: 7)
- On Bastille Day, there are celebrations throughout France. It is a national holiday known as … (Answer: La Fête Nationale)
Want more quizzes? Head to AhaSlides and browse thousands of ready-made templates all for free.
Bastille Day serves as a powerful symbol of France’s resilience and determination, commemorating historical events that helped shape its course and representing freedom, equality, and fraternity for future generations. From celebrating with your loved ones to vibrant parades, picnics, and fireworks displays – this day brings communities together while inspiring national pride.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happened on July 14 1789, Bastille Day?
On the momentous day of July 14, 1789, history witnessed the extraordinary event known as the Storming of the Bastille (French: Prise de la Bastille).
In the heart of Paris, France, revolutionary insurgents boldly launched their strike and successfully seized control of the iconic medieval armoury, fortress, and political prison, the Bastille.
This audacious act marked a turning point in the French Revolution, symbolising the resolute spirit of the people and their unyielding quest for freedom and justice.
Do the French say Happy Bastille Day?
If you don’t want to get a confused look from French people, you shouldn’t say “Bastille Day” as the French refer 14th of July as Le Quatorze Juillet or La Fête Nationale. So it’s not the custom to say Happy Bastille Day in France.
What happens in Paris on Bastille Day?
Paris takes it seriously when it comes to Bastille Day celebrations. The Place de la Bastille transforms into an open-air block party, while the Champs-Elysées dazzles with a daytime military parade.
At 11 PM, the Eiffel Tower takes centre stage with breathtaking fireworks and a free concert. There are lively crowds around the Winged Liberty statue creating a vibrant atmosphere that echoes the historic enthusiasm of the past.
Bastille Day in Paris is an unforgettable celebration of liberty and French heritage.