The History and Traditions of Bastille Day

Bastille Day
… or better known as La Fête nationale or Le quatorze juillet is the French national holiday which is celebrated on July 14. The French national holiday commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789.

The Bastille Day Military Parade has taken place in France on the morning of July 14 each year since 1880. Since 1918 it has been held in Paris on the Champs-Elysées with the participation of France’s Allies as represented in the Versailles Peace Conference, with the exception of the period of German occupation from 1940 to 1944 (when the ceremony took place in London). The parade starts at the Arc de Triomphe and ends at the Place de la Concorde where the President of the French Republic, his government and foreign dignitaries stand and salute. This is a popular event broadcast on French TV, and is the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe.  Smaller military parades are held in French garrison towns, including Toulon and Belfort.

At the municipal level, ceremonies are organized in most French towns where the mayor holds a traditional speech, followed by a wreath-laying at the local war memorial, with a French honor guard. In addition, marching bands often march from one village to another with local residents following them. Towns also organize festivities that include games for young and old, flea markets, concerts, dinners, public dances, and fireworks.

Bastille Day on 60th Street – New York’s ultimate street fair!
On Sunday, July 12, 2015 from 12 pm to 5 pm New Yorkers and visitors from all over the US and from abroad can enjoy an afternoon of French food, culture, and entertainment! This year’s edition will include a great line-up of events:
–    Champagne tasting
–    Free film screenings for kids and families
–    Performances by Can-Can dancers, the Chorale Arpège from Martinique, the Franco-American electro/pop/swing band Ginkgoa, the Hungry March Band and more.
–    Raffle featuring incredible prizes including trips to Paris, Bordeaux and New Orleans.
–    French delicacies like crêpes, éclairs, macarons, and more
–    Great selection of wines, cheeses, beers, and cocktails
–    For the kids: face painting, arts & crafts, cooking classes, mime acts, etc.
–    Vintage Citroën car show.

For over ten years, Bastille Day on 60th Street has been the largest public celebration in New York commemorating France’s Independence Day and its historic friendship with the United States. The event is presented by FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française). For more information see their website at http://www.bastilledayny.com. Bonne fête !