America isn’t the only country with a summer holiday celebrating liberty and freedom. If you live in France, on July 14th you’ll be taking part in La Fete Nationale (The National Celebration), or what’s more commonly called le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July). In English-speaking countries, it’s better known as Bastille Day.
This French national holiday commemorates the storming of the Bastille fortress prison on July 14, 1789, marking the beginning of the French Revolution. Although the Bastille only held seven prisoners at the time, the storming was a symbol of liberty and the fight against the oppression of King Louis the XVI’s regime. It marked the end of the absolute monarchy, the birth of a sovereign nation and the eventual creation of the first French Republic in 1792.
How’s that for a history lesson? Now let’s move on to the parties.
First celebrated in 1790, today Bastille Day in France is a celebration of French culture with many large-scale public events throughout France. This includes Europe’s largest and oldest military parade held the morning of July 14th in Paris on the Champs-ElysÃ©es.
Other people and places celebrate Bastille Day, too
If you’re traveling this Bastille Day, don’t forget that France isn’t the only country celebrating the storming of the Bastille. Those countries and cities with a French influence are also known to commemorate this French day of freedom.
Here at TripCase we’ll be celebrating all things French with French wine and baguettes.
Over in Belgium, the town of LiÃ¨ge has celebrated Bastille Day each year since the end of the First World War. LiÃ¨ge was decorated by the French LÃ©gion d’Honneur for its unexpected resistance during the Battle of LiÃ¨ge, the first battle of WWI. The battle lasted 11 days, allowing more time for the Western Allies organize and prepare their defense of France.
Franschhoek, a small town situated in the Western Cape of South Africa, was originally settled in 1688 by 176 French Huguenot refugees. At one time called le Coin FranÃ§ais (“the French
Corner”), it’s now called Franschhoek (Dutch for “French Corner”). Franschhoek commemorates its French heritage with a two-day Bastille Day wine festival.
In the UK, London’s large French population celebrates Bastille Day at various locations across the city, including Battersea Park.
Meanwhile, across the pond…
More than 50 U.S. cities have an annual Bastille Day celebration. Some of the more elaborate U.S. celebrations include:
New York City: celebrations include Bastille Day on 60th Street hosted by the French Institute Alliance FranÃ§aise between Fifth and Lexington Avenues on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Bastille Day on Smith Street in Brooklyn.
Philadelphia: actually holds an event at Eastern State Penitentiary that involves Marie
Antoinette throwing locally manufactured pastries at the Parisian militia, as well as a re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille.