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Bastille Day

national and public holidays in France National Holiday in France

Arc de triomphe Paris city at sunset Image credit: Jan Novak / 123RF Stock Photo

When is it?

Bastille Day is celebrated on 14 July and marks the birth of the French Republic.

If 14 July falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a holiday in lieu. If 14 July is a Thursday, it is common for many people to take the Friday off to create a 'pont' (bridge ) to the weekend.

In France, it is referred to as la Fête Nationale ("National Holiday"),

Technically the holiday marks the Fête de la Fédération of the 14 July 1790, which was a huge feast and event to celebrate the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in France.

History of the holiday

However the holiday is usually seen as a celebration of the storming of the Bastille.

After years of Monarchy rule, the French people had finally united in a popular uprising in an effort to take control of their own country.

On July 14, 1789 the people of Paris banded together to march on the Bastille. The Bastille was a state prison that represented the absolute despotism of the regime of Louis the 16th.

The storming of the prison marked the beginning of the French Revolution and came to symbolize liberty, democracy and the struggle against oppression for all the people of France.

On the one-year anniversary of the fall of Bastille, July 14, 1790, delegates from across the country assembled in Paris to proclaim their allegiance as one national community at the Fête de la Fédération.

Did you know?

Over one hundred people died in the storming of the Bastille, but only seven prisoners were actually being held in the Bastille at the time. This included four forgers and two lunatics.

Bastille Day was declared a French national holiday on July 6, 1880.

How is it celebrated?

Today, Parisians celebrate the holiday with a grand military parade along the Champs Élysées.

Parties and colorful art fairs take place throughout France in celebration of Bastille Day.


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