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Bastille Day: How did it get its name and why is it celebrated?


Bastille Day is France’s national day and it is celebrated every year on July 14. But how did it get its name and why is it celebrated? One of the most important national holidays for people in France, Bastille Day is celebrated in remembrance of the storming of Paris’ Bastille Prison in 1789. It was on this day when revolutionists and mutinous troops stormed and captured the military fortress and prison. The event was significant as the Bastille had become a symbol of the French king, Louis XVI’s, harsh rule and tyranny. Its fall sparked the beginning of the French Revolution, which would last for a decade and see both King Louis and his wife, Marie Antoinette, executed by guillotine in 1793. The end of the French Revolution led to the formation of the French Consulate, the top-level government of France until Napoleon declared himself emperor in 1804. Bastille Day 2021 Yesterday, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, people all across France recognised Bastille Day. In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron led the national day parade, which started at the Arc de Triomphe monument and ended with a ceremony on the Concorde square. Thousands of military and public security personnel paraded by foot, on vehicles and aboard jets over Paris' Champs Elysees Avenue yesterday. You can see some coverage of the military parade in this video: *Image: “Taking of the Bastille” by Rama, Wikimedia Commons, Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr

How to Celebrate Bastille Day in Paris


  On this day (July 14) in 1789, Parisian revolutionaries stormed the Bastille prison in Paris and sparked the beginning of the French Revolution. A year later, it was decided that July 14 would become the French national holiday, formally known as La Fête nationale. Celebrations are held throughout France and on Bastille Day morning, the oldest and largest military parade in Europe takes place on the Champs Elysees in Paris. While you’re too late to enjoy this year’s Bastille Day celebrations, there’s always next year. And with that I mind, we’ve compiled a short list of some of our favourite things to do in Paris to enjoy this mega summer event. Military Parade on the Champs Elysees The annual Champs Elysees military parade begins at 9am, but we advise you get there earlier to secure a good spot with a view for the three and a half hour show. Around noon, good views are afforded from the Boulevard Saint-Germain, while La Rue Marbeuf and Rue Royale tend to be less crowded. Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower What could be more spectacular than a magnificent fireworks display at Paris’s most iconic landmark: the Eiffel Tower!? The fireworks begin at 11pm, but as with the military parade, we suggest you get there earlier to not risk missing them. Firemans’ Balls Nearly every single fire station in France throws open its doors on Bastille Day and welcomes in guests for the traditional fundraising dance which often lasts into the early hours of the next morning. For a full list of participating fire stations, check out the official website of the Paris Tourist Office.   Photo credit: Thierry Nava

Remembering 14th July - Bastille Day


Just over a month away is Bastille Day. Held annually on July 14, Bastille Day is the French national holiday and commemorates the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 – the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was not only a prison but also an iconic symbol of Louis the 16th’s absolute power. By capturing the Bastille, the people of France showed that Louis’s power was not absolute and power should be based on the nation. However, don’t think that the storming of the Bastille triggered streams of prisoners to flea out of the building. At the time, the Bastille only housed seven inmates and the event would become more poignant for its symbolism of liberty and the fight against oppression. This historic event complements the Tricolore flag perfectly as both symbolise liberty, equality and fraternity for every French citizen. It brought about the birth of the first republic in 1792 and marked an end to the unquestionable power of the monarchy. And what better way to celebrate such an iconic event than in the country where it all happened? There’s still plenty of time to arrange a visit to France and experience for yourself the passion that a national event such as this arouses. Photo credits: © lifeofriley - & Embassy of France in Washington

Visit France in the Summer


France is one of the most seductive countries in the world and allures travellers from all over the globe with its promises of total diversity. In fact, France is often lauded as the most diverse country in Europe and it’s not difficult to see why. After all, where else can you find celebrated mountains, some of the finest coastline on the continent and everything else in-between? In addition, 28 per cent of France is still covered in forest! A fact that will resonate with anyone who has been there previously and enjoyed some of the sparsely-populated villages that remain complete unto themselves – in other words, they’ve not bowed down to modern influences and haven’t become mere extensions of the inevitable urban sprawl that is often found in many other countries. All of this diversity coupled with the frozen in time picturesqueness of French villages, means that marked regional identities are retained even today. Looking for some inspiration? Check out the Top 25 Tourist Destinations in the Midi-Pyrénées video on our website, which is guaranteed to give you a fantastic insight into some of the region’s very best locations. But being a year-round destination, France enjoys a steady flow of visitors regardless of the season. However, it’s the summer months that often attract the most people and anyone fortunate enough to visit France at this time will be astonished by the sheer number of festivals that the country boasts. There are far too many great festivals to give an overview of them all, so instead we’ve compiled a short list that features three of our favourites. Enjoy… Festival d'Avignon With its roots in the city of Avignon, the Festival d'Avignon, or Avignon Festival, takes place annually in July and has done so since 1947. That’s the year when Jean Vilar founded this exuberant celebration of performing arts – now one of the biggest in the world. Predominantly set in the courtyard of the Pope’s Palace, the Festival d'Avignon plays host to some 3,500 performing arts professionals from around the world. In fact, the festival has become such a popular annual event that it has spawned an unofficial sibling festival, known as the ‘off’, which sees numerous companies performing various works on their own initiative. Carcassonne Festival A must for music lovers, the Carcassonne Festival is held every year from June to August and features some 100 concerts that showcase French and international music talent alike. Past performers include Diana Ross, Supertramp and Bob Dylan. However, the festival also sees live theatre shows, circus, dance and opera all on offer for the crowds to enjoy. This year’s festival will welcome acclaimed international stars like Elton John, the Jacksons and Franz Ferdinand. It really is a wonderful celebration of music from around the world and should definitely be a consideration for anyone travelling to France over the summer. Fêtes de Bayonne As it’s the largest festival in France, the Fêtes de Bayonne was always going to feature on our list. This annual event attracts more than a million visitors each year and is kicked off by the festival’s mascot King Leon. The keys to the city are tossed from the town hall balcony by the king, much to the delight of the massed crowd below. This action signals the start of five days and nights of non-stop partying. It’s not just a party atmosphere though as the Fêtes de Bayonne’s diverse nature means that there is literally something for everyone. Carnival-esque parades, nightly concerts, firework displays and giants roaming the streets are just some of the highlights. Did we mention the two official bullfights that take place in the city’s bullring? There really is no better time to visit France and experience some of the world’s best festivals than summer. Furthermore, July 14 is Bastille Day – the French national holiday and another significant event in the French calendar. Photo credits: Flickr

Where to celebrate New Years’ Eve in Europe


New Years’ Eve is actively celebrated throughout Europe with fantastic celebrations organised in advance and partygoers advised to book their accommodation in their chosen celebration city months before the New Year is welcomed to avoid disappointment. London There are few clocks around the world that are as famous as Big Ben and so celebrating New Years’ Eve in the capital city of the UK is particularly special as you get to countdown with the chimes of this awesome monument. Not only that but the usual fireworks display that begins on the strike of midnight over the River Themes is well worth braving the cold, and often rainy, weather to experience. Rome The capital city of Italy offers a family friendly celebration of New Years’ Eve, or San Silvestro as it is referred to in Italian. The people of Rome and all the visitors wishing to experience the New Year in this fantastic country, populate the Pizza del Popolo where a fabulous fireworks display can be seen as well as a musical completely free of charge. Paris In France New Years’ is called la Saint-Sylvestre and lasts from January 1 to February 1. If you wish to begin the New Year by celebrating New Years’ Eve in Paris then you won’t be disappointed. Often referred to as the ‘city of light’, this city is a fantastic place to welcome in the New Year. The celebrations focus around the Eiffel Tower with a fireworks display that is second only to Bastille Day. Photo credits: Flickr