At JustCall we love to join our friends around the world in celebrating their culture and history. That’s why on 14th July, we’ll be raising a glass of the finest champagne to the people of France - as they celebrate Bastille Day.
History of Bastille Day
The storming of the Bastille, the Parisian prison that has an iconic place in French history, signalled the beginning of the French Revolution - and is now recognised as the start of the birth of modern France.
However, if you imagine the storming of the Bastille as a great military conquest, this might disappoint you. When the Bastille was attacked by the common people on the morning of 14th July 1789, there were actually only seven inmates in the prison: four elderly forgers, two “lunatics” and one “deviant” aristocrat. What’s more, just a few days before the disturbances, a decision had been made to close the fortress due to high costs of maintaining it!
Although strategic significance of the Bastille was minimal, it represented the despised royal tyranny to the people of Paris. Its seizure symbolically marked the start of the French Revolution and creation of the modern democratic nation. During annual La Fête nationale - which means simply The National Celebration - the French celebrate the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, that founded the Revolution.
Bastille Day military parade
The largest event to commemorate 14th July is with no doubt the Bastille Day Military Parade. Held annually in Paris, it’s the oldest regular military parade in Europe, and arguably the largest. Around 4000 soldiers and 300 vehicles roll down the famous Champs-Elysées Avenue cheered for by the crowd. The parade enjoys huge popularity in France and is broadcast on French television.
Fireworks at Eiffel Tower
After the parade, festivities in Paris continue on Champs-de-Mars. A free concert by the National Orchestra of France and Radio France Choir is followed by a breath-taking fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower. An estimated 500 000 spectators watch the fireworks light up the Iron Lady in a dazzling show of light and colour. Take a look back at the spectacular 2014 fireworks display in Paris to see what we can expect from this year’s show!
Celebrations outside Paris
From the largest cities to the smallest towns, 14th July is celebrated by sport and cultural events, picnics and fireworks displays. Many French families gather around the table for lavish Bastille Day feasts in the middle of the day. There are no traditional Bastille Day dishes, but the meal is likely to include a lot of seasonal, uncooked fruit and vegetables.
Those who fancy something more exciting might spend the bank holiday at the prestigious cycling race, Tour de France. This year, on 14th July the race will start from Tarbes, in the south of the country, and finish at La Pierre-Saint-Martin.
If you’re away from home on 14th July this year, you can celebrate a couple days earlier with an extravaganza of all things French at Bastille Festival in London on Sunday 12th July. Also, be sure to use our cheap calls to France to wish your family and friends a happy holiday and check what they’re up to on that special day!