How to celebrate Bastille Day?

Learn-french | 13 July 2015

There are many reasons to start learning French, the most common of which is probably a love of French culture.

Unfortunately (or not, if you are French!), the clichés and stereotypes about France and the French tend to fall further and further from reality: don’t expect to see many French people wearing berets and striped jerseys with baguettes under their arms on your next trip to France.

However, certain traditions that represent France and its culture are still alive. The most important of these is probably the annual celebration of the French National Day on 14 July.

Let’s have a look at what happens on a typical Bastille Day and how to celebrate it your way if you are not in France!

The parade

Every Bastille Day in France starts with a parade. The most impressive and majestic one can be found in Paris, where the French army parades on the Champs-Elysées. Though the march was originally a way to show the country’s national strength to the citizens, today it offers great family entertainment and a wonderful show to watch.

But as the entire France does not gather to Paris, smaller villages also organise their own parades, usually with the local orchestra instead of the army. Probably less impressive, but much more friendly.

Our advice: If you are not in France for the event, you can probably watch a broadcast of the French Army parade in Paris on the Internet. This is another interesting and useful way to practise your French.

Parade in Paris, France - 14 July 2014

Relax, take it easy

14th of July is a bank holiday. But who says that a bank holiday in France means that there’s not much to do? Why not enjoy your free time to get the perfect suntan, organise a barbecue with friends or family, or just go for a walk in the countryside?

Our advice: If the weather forces you to stay inside, put your free time to good use. Keep learning French with the Lingvist mobile app or practise your French with a good book or film.

Firemen’s ball

After a good rest and long hours of chilling out, you should be in perfect shape to join one of the so-called “bal des pompiers” (literally “firemen’s ball”). Because the 14th of July is all about celebrating, most towns organise public dances at the local fire stations.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, printed tea dresses and accordions should be an amazing opportunity to enjoy a blast from the past.

Our advice: Not everyone is into dancing. If you don’t want to go to the music, make the music come to you! Check out the Internet for some French songs. Reading the lyrics and singing along is a great way to learn new words and impress your friends at your next karaoke session.



The final touch to a proper Bastille Day is the annual fireworks. It’s a great show for the whole family that will dazzle young and old alike.

Our advice: If you are planning to light your own fireworks, be careful! We care about our users.

Better late than never

This typical Bastille Day’s programme probably makes you want to spend your 14th of July in France. If you already have plans to be in France on this day, you are quite lucky and will probably have a great day discovering and sharing a great moment of the French culture.

If not, don’t worry - every problem has a solution. A small town in France, called Viriat , is allowed to celebrate Bastille Day later than the rest of the country, usually in August!

How do you celebrate the National Day in your own countries? Share your experience with us!