The Champs-Elysees shakes with the pounding of hundreds of hooves as French soldiers march their horses past the Arc de Triomph. The strumming of guitars and pounding of drums flows through every street of Paris and the sky above the Eiffel Tower sparkles with red fireworks. Bastille Day commemorates the storming of Bastille prison and the paradigm shift in French society. Known as La Fête Nationale in France, the fourteenth of July is a symbol of the great revolution that forever changed government and the perception of Western democracy.

Many ÉCU members in Paris celebrate Bastille Day each year and while we enjoy the traditional parade and fireworks, we want to share a few indie favourites with you:

 

Free admission to the Louvre

Since the rest of the city is crawling with tourists and pilgrims, museums go relatively unnoticed on the biggest national holiday of the year. Stroll into the Louvre free of charge and take in the rich paintings and magnificent sculptures.

 

Cruise along the Seine

Escape the bustling cobblestone streets and crowded metro stations for the winding Seine River. You can book an evening cruise and watch the fireworks while docked along the banks.

 

Wine and dine at a French restaurant

French restaurants will host cultural events or special menus for visitors to indulge in French cuisine and experience nation’s heritage in one of the best ways — through your stomach!

 

Check out the political scene

The president usually conducts an interview with media to discuss the nation’s current status, events, and future ambitions. Keep an eye out for a speech from recently elected President François Hollande. In 2007, former president Nicolas Sarkozy chose not to give one.

 

Inspect the military gear

After the parade, the tanks from the parade are parked on Rue de Lyon for hours. You can get up close and personal and the soldiers might even show off their gear.

 

Watch the fireworks from Pont Neuf

While Trocadéro is the favourite spot to watch the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, Pont Neuf allows for a breathtaking, albeit distant, view of the Eiffel Tower at the other end of the Seine. You can stand on the bridge with Notre Dame at your back and the dazzling fireworks reflecting on the water.

 

Duck into the metro during the march

For those of you that have seen the parade year after year, try burrowing down into the Metro – Line 1 as the tanks roll along Rue Rivoli overhead. It’s an interesting acoustic experience.

 

Stefanie Marotta


 

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