14th Of July The French Independence Day (Bastille Day)

“Prise de la Bastille” Storming of the Bastille

Today the most logical post I could think of was to tell you about the upcoming National French Holiday, the 14th of July.

So, what is the 14th of July in France, which English speakers call Bastille Day?

The 14th of July used to be called” La Fête Nationale” (National Holiday), in French, but today it’s commonly known as “Le quatorze juillet” (The 14th of July).

The 14th of July is the French National Holiday . It was establish by law in 1880 for a double memorable day, July 14 1789, the day the Bastille was taken,  and July 14 1790, the day of the national unity. Both dates commemorate the end of absolutism. The end of the days when nobles had everything and ever right while the people had very little to nothing.

The 14th of July celebrates the revolution of the people who won over king, queen and other nobles in the France of those days.

The Day French People Got Themselves Free 

What happened in French history of this time is very similar to what happened in England when the English fled to America to get away from the servitude of their rulers and kings.  The difference is that instead of leaving the country to settle somewhere else, the people took over the country by getting rid of the oppressing rulers.

The people of France took over the Bastille which was not only a prison for the poor, but a symbol of king’s absolute power over such people.  A group of men ran to the Invalides to steal a large amount of weapons and broke into La Bastille to steal powder and take it over.  As a matter of fact, when nobles witness such determination they didn’t even resist the people and allow them to enter the Bastille, maybe thinking that it will save their lives, but it didn’t.

Very soon after the storming of the Bastille (la prise de la Bastile), the Marquis de Launay was beheaded.  When the king Louis XVI heard of the storming of the Bastille he asked his a now very famous question to his advisor “is this a revolt?” to which question his advisor gave this very famous reply, “No Majesty, this is a revolution.”

Not too long after that King Louis XVI and his wife, Queen Marie-Antoinette, both were beheaded along with some other nobles and people in power.

From then on, France which had been ruled by more of less capable kings for centuries became a republic ruled and led by the people. If it hadn’t been for those courageous people of the time, France, might still be ruled by kings today.  So any French citizen should be thankful for this 14th of July who is the commemoration of freedom for the people by the people.

Celebration of the 14th of July in FrancTodayFete du 14 Juillet

The official celebrations of the 14th of July start at 10:00 AM with a huge military parade on the Champs Elysees in Paris.  Such parade is usually reviewed by the president once it arrives at destination at the bottom of the Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde.

The military parade is usually followed by other more entertaining parades.

Besides Paris, every large city in France has its own parade on the 14th of July.

At night fall stats the popular 14th of July fireworks followed by popular balls typical of the 14th of July.   In Paris the popular 14th of July ball is call the “le ball des pompiers” (the firemen’s ball).

Celebration of the 14th of July at Home with Family

Of course, when it comes to families, the 14th of July is a day off for the whole country, and family and friends gather together around a dinner table and enjoy a festive menu before gathering nearby the fireworks, and maybe go dance in one of those 14th of July balls.

La Marseillaise

La Marseillaise is the French National anthem which is heard throughout France’s parades and celebrations.  In today’s society the words of the song have been criticized many times for being of a rather violent nature, which is true, but taken in the context of the times they just translated what the people felt and how oppressed they were back then.

Here is the anthem sang in French with the English sub-titles…


Here is a short video of the military parade of July 14th 2012.


I hope you’ve learned something and enjoy this today’s post on this eve of the 14th of July 2013 in France.

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18 thoughts on “14th Of July The French Independence Day (Bastille Day)”

  1. That was a great little history lesson, Sylvaine. I had heard of Bastille Day but I admit I remember very little information about it. It’s one of those things you learn in school but after a while it all falls out of my brain!

    So it seems a little like the 4th of July here in America. Parades, parties and a day off from work!

    I was waiting to read about what thing you would have cooked for the celebration 🙂 Is there something traditional that you eat on that day? I guess here its just barbecue – probably hot dogs and hamburgers. Not very exciting!

    Thanks for sharing this story. I enjoy learning these things and you tell them in a way that makes them easy to understand and fun!
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    1. Hi Carol,

      Oh, boy, I was afraid of that. True I didn’t say anything about food, because we do not have anything specific for the 14th of July. Since it’s summer holiday, people do barbecue steaks, ribs, pork shops, peppers, corn and things like that. France is not too much of a hamburger place, though, so not sure if they do grill hamburgers these days, but they didn’t when I was there.

      Yes, interestingly the French 14th of July is very similar to the American 4th of July.

      Thanks for coming and have a great weekend.
      Sylviane Nuccio invites you to read..14th Of July The French Independence Day (Bastille Day)My Profile

  2. Hi Sylvianne!

    I always wanted to know the English version of the song. As I listened to it all I could think of was the movie “Casablanca” where the Germans were singing their song in Ricks Cafe and the French stood up and out-sang them. Victory filled my soul.

    This really brought tears to my eyes knowing the history of Bastille Day. I thank you for this moving post.

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    1. Hi Donna,

      Wow, I’m so glad. It’s funny that as I put this video on my blog and listen to it I also teared up, but that it did that to you who is not French is really great 🙂

      I had fun putting this post together and it’s always a reward when someone like you takes the time to read it and watch the videos.

      Glad you enjoyed and have a great weekend.
      Sylviane Nuccio invites you to read..14th Of July The French Independence Day (Bastille Day)My Profile

  3. Hey Sylviane,

    I agree with Carol, that was a great little history lesson. I too have heard the name Bastille Day, but I didn’t recall anything about it. I was never good with history and if something doesn’t interest me at that moment then I immediately forget all about it.

    Sounds like how we celebrate the 4th of July here in the US. Parties, food, parades, time off work, a fabulous day of celebration.

    Enjoyed watching and listening to the videos. It’s always cool to learn about different things and I guess I end up having more of an interest because it’s something you’re so passionate about having been raised in France. You share the coolest things with us Sylviane so thank you for the ongoing education.

    Hope your weekend has been a good one and see you next week.

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    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Sorry for being so late here but I just discovered that Hostgator is not happy with my CPU usage and they are holding my sites until I find a solution. Grrrrrr always something, isn’t it?

      Anyway, thank you for telling me that you appreciate this blog. I never knew that one day I’ll be blogging about France and how much fun I would have doing it. All those things that I take for granted and really wonder who would be interested as I am writing those posts. Yet people telling me they didn’t know it or enjoyed it. That’s fantastic!

      Yes, the 14th of July in France is so similar the 4th of July in the US and the dates being so close and similar. So Interesting.

      Thanks for coming and have a great week.
      Sylviane Nuccio invites you to read..14th Of July The French Independence Day (Bastille Day)My Profile

  4. Sylviane, I have to say I love your posts about French culture. You really tell it allot better than the history books. I love it when its told by someone from that culture because they always had a little something unique to the story. I know for US Citizens, it becomes more about Fireworks and making alot of noise, but I appreciate the story from a French point of view.
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    1. Hi Sonia,

      Thank you for your compliment. This is what I always look for when I write. Telling it more as it is, and as a person to another person, unlike fact articles and stuff that are so boring.

      I really appreciate compliments like this one 🙂

      Thanks for coming, Sonia.
      Sylviane Nuccio invites you to read..14th Of July The French Independence Day (Bastille Day)My Profile

  5. Hi Sylviane,
    I’m really sorry to say this but I don’t know much about French French Independence Day as I am India but I appreciated emotion of French for their Independence Day! So wish you Independence Day to all French citizen’s.

    1. Hi Disha and thank you for coming.

      To be sure, France is very far from India, and I wouldn’t expect you to know about this. This prompt the question, though, do you learn about other countries in India? I know we do in Europe and in the US, but what about your home?

      Thanks for your visit.
      Sylviane Nuccio invites you to read..14th Of July The French Independence Day (Bastille Day)My Profile

  6. Hi Sylviane

    Ah you see I knew a reasonable amount about Bastille Day. As I have said to you before on this blog where I live in Australia we have a surprising number of French cafe’s and people for our population.

    I have lived in this region for almost 8 years and every year there are Bastille Day lunches in the cafes. Now you said to Carol there is no special food, well come to Australia because they think there is 🙂

    I too found the music moving.

    Thanks Sylviane for sharing this.

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    1. Hi Sue,

      Well, for the life of me I can’t remember any specific food for 14th of July. Wonder what that would be.

      I’m glad you like the French anthem.

  7. Thanks for this very enlightening French history lesson. Like Carol Lynn mentioned earlier, I remember being thought about Bastille Day in high school, but the lesson was quickly forgotten.

    Now that I’m older history is more meaningful and I regret that I blow off history as a child.

    Now, you have whet my appetite to read more about the relationship between the U.S. and France, specifically why did they give us the statue of liberty?

    Thanks for the post.

    1. Hi Vance and welcome to my blog.

      It took a bit longer for your comment to be approved because you do not have any avatar. You might want to create one as some blogs don’t accept comments with no avatar at all.

      Well, you have just given me an idea about an upcoming blog post – why France gave the Statue of Liberty to the US? Interesting question, isn’t it?

      I know history is rather boring when we are kids, but it does become more interesting as we grow older.

      Thanks for your visit and hope to see you again.
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  8. Happy independence to you all. I don’t belong to France but by heart i respect your independence day and the blog you have made is having strong feeling of freedom.

    .. Thanks for posting it

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