Bastille Day 2023, French National Day
Bastille Day, the national day of France, is celebrated on 14 July. This symbolic date in the middle of summer is the perfect time to explore the districts of Paris on foot thanks to our Tootwalk tours. Take advantage of the many popular demonstrations and festive events!
Why is the French National Day celebrated on 14 July?
This date refers to the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. This historic event marked the beginning of the French Revolution and the end of absolute monarchy.
A year later, on 14 July 1790, the Fête de la Fédération celebrated the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. It marked the reconciliation of the King and the French people in a climate of national unity.
Thanks to a law passed on 6 July 1880 under the Third Republic by Benjamin Raspail, a member of parliament, 14 July was adopted as an annual bank holiday to celebrate the two events mentioned above.
The aim of the first military parade in 1880 was to restore France's image following its defeat by Prussia and its allies in 1870, rather than to celebrate the storming of the Bastille.
The parade has only been held on the Champs-Élysées since 1981 under the presidency of François Mitterrand.
What's on the programme for 14 July?
A traditional military parade, an open-air symphony concert, a breathtaking fireworks display, a varied cultural programme... Take advantage of the French National Day to attend some exceptional free events!
The military parade
On the morning of 14 July in Paris, the famous military parade along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées honours the French military regiments.
The President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, descends the Champs-Elysées in a military vehicle. The regiments then march down from Place de l'Étoile to Place de la Concorde.
More than 6,000 soldiers march from 10am to midday, accompanied by 200 horses of the Garde républicaine and 200 vehicles, 70 aircraft and 20 helicopters. The Patrouille de France flypasts open and close the event. The main French armed forces and police forces are represented.
This year, India is the guest of honour. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be present and Indian troops are invited to join the parade. France is also celebrating the 25th anniversary of its special partnership with India, a crucial economic and strategic partner for France.
The Orchestre National de France, the Maîtrise and the Chœur de Radio France are organising a major free symphony concert at the foot of the Eiffel Tower on Thursday 14 July 2023 at 9pm on the Champ-de-Mars in Paris.
The greatest classical works, from Hector Berlioz to Georges Bizet and Joséphine Baker, will be performed with the participation of numerous soloists. The Marseillaise will close the concert.
As Radio France states on its website, admission to the concert is free and no booking is required. However, concert-goers are asked to pre-empt security checks at the entrances by arriving 45 minutes before the concert.
The fireworks are then launched from the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadéro gardens at 11pm, lasting around 30 minutes.
Dozens of pyrotechnicians, sound and light specialists and technicians are on hand for the occasion.
Activities to do during the week
A whole host of events are being organised in Paris to mark the French National Day. From popular balls and fire brigade balls to garden parties and cruises on the Seine, the choice is yours!
Fire brigade balls
Every year, fire brigade balls are organised in several fire stations of the Paris fire brigade on 13 and/or 14 July, from 9pm to 4am.
These traditionally very popular events are well attended. If you wish to attend, you may have to pay an entrance fee, but a "tonneau" is available for donations. The money raised goes towards improving staff conditions.
The Garden Party at the Longchamp racecourse
Every year, the Longchamp racecourse becomes the capital's most fashionable venue with an evening of sport and festivities!
The racecourse opens its gates at 3.30pm. The first horse race starts at 4.45pm. This is followed by a race every 30 minutes, with no fewer than 9 gallop races! From 7pm, the first DJ set of the evening kicks off between races.
The Grand Prix de Paris starts at 8.30pm. The last race of the evening takes place at 9.35pm. The second DJ set of the evening, hosted by Martin Solveig, takes place at 10.45pm.
At midnight, you can watch the third DJ set. The racecourse closes at 2am. Tickets start at €10 for general admission, €30 for the panoramic grandstand and €70 for the VIP box.
To keep up with the festive atmosphere, check out our selection of the best summer festivals in Paris.
Cruises on the Seine
Several companies are organising cruises on the Seine on the evening of 14 July 2023. After boarding at the Île aux Cygnes, the "Capitaine Fracasse" dinner cruise offers an exceptional service in terms of both the quality of the food and wine and the length of the cruise (from 8pm to 1am).
For its part, the Compagnie des Bateaux Mouches is offering an exceptional evening with a Champagne dinner cruise followed by fireworks that you can admire from the boat's panoramic terrace.
Make the most of the summer by exploring the streets of Paris at your own pace. Discover our selection of activities to do in Paris this summer with your family.