From Glyndebourne to Glastonbury - A social calendar for the 21st century
14 July, 2012
Vive la Révolution! Bastille Day celebrations marking the biggest turning point in French history make for a riotously colourful spectacle in Paris.
Celebrations take place all over France on 14 July, commemorating the 1789 storming and surrender of the Bastille fortress and prison in Paris, which led ultimately to the Revolution and the abolition of the country's monarchy. The events in Paris are, unsurprisingly, the most fervent and spectacular.
Crowds flock to the Champs-Elysées in the morning to watch a military parade led by the President and accompanied by policemen, fire-fighters and a display of jets flying over the Arc de Triomphe, leaving red, white and blue trails - the colours of the French tricolore flag.
Amidst a street-party atmosphere that lasts all day, the crowds move on, to converge again by the Eiffel Tower to watch a stupendous hour-long Bastille day fireworks display, accompanied by music and son et lumière effects, in the late evening.
But Bastille Day events actually kick off on the night of 13 July, when each arrondissement (district) hosts a 'bal des pompiers' ('firemen's ball'), a street party with live music and drinking. One of the best is in Place de la Contrescarpe in the 5th.
Many Métro stations are closed on the 14th, a national holiday, so set out early to find a good vantage point.