Bastille Day, or ‘Le 14 Juillet’ as we frenchies call it, is France’s national holiday. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 which heralded the end of the Monarchy and started the French Revolution. In France, the 14th of July is a big deal with military parades, balls, concerts and fireworks organized all over the country. Everyone has the day off so it’s also an opportunity for friends and family to gather around a good meal, catch up, and of course drink lots of champagne!
You don’t need to live in France to celebrate Bastille Day though. Wherever you are across the world, the 14th of July is the perfect excuse to party and to enjoy a slice of French culture.
I’ve listed 8 different ways to celebrate Bastille Day in true French fashion below: they range from quiet, distinguished options to more ‘disorderly’ party themes – it’s a revolution after all! ;)
One note of warning: if you suddenly find yourself merrily singing ‘The Marseillaise’ at the top of your lungs (even if you don’t know the words) with a random group of French people, then it might be your cue that it’s time to go home…
Happy Bastille Day!
♥ Watch French classics
Replace the popcorn and coke with a cheese platter and some wine (or a diabolo menthe) and take a cinematographic journey to France. My personal favorites include Amelie, Love is in the air and The Spanish Apartment (the whole trilogy is great) but I also love older movies such the Marius trilogy and The children of paradise.
♥ Throw a French themed dinner party
Nobody does ‘indulgence’ quite as well as the French so kiss your diet good-bye for the night, head to the kitchen and whip up some french delights. This year, my Bastille Day menu will consist of Parisian-style onion soup, duck confit with sautéed potatoes, and orange creme brulée. With French cheese and home-baked macarons to finish of course -) I. can’t. wait.
Another idea would be to prepare a french picnic if the weather permits.
However, if you’re really not in the mood to cook that night, how about paying a visit to your local French restaurant? They are bound to have some sort of special celebration going on and you’ll probably end up serenaded by an accordion whilst you eat your profiteroles.
♥ Take a French lesson
Learning French is another great way to get to know a bit more about French culture. It’s a beautiful language (if I may say so myself) and it’s spoken in numerous countries besides France so it’s quite useful as well. Also, there is nothing more sexy to a french person than hearing our language spoken by a foreigner. Just sayin’.
♥ Attend a Cabaret show
If you’ve always dreamed of visiting the ‘Moulin Rouge’ in Paris how about going to a cabaret show near you? Cabarets are always a lot of fun with a crazy mix of comedy, dancing and singing. Some even specialize in French Can can – it doesn’t get any more French than that!
I’d also advise you contact your local Alliance Francaise (French cultural center) and see what events they’ve got planned for the 14th of July.
♥ Dress like a French girl
Garance Doré wrote a great article on how to channel your inner femme francaise.
Alternatively, you could take a leaf out of Brigitte Bardot’s book and strut your stuff in ballet flats, nautical stripes and capris. Cat eyes and hair choucroute optional.
♥ Host a French apéritif
In France, apéritifs are a very popular alternative to dinner parties because they are much easier to organize. You can find my guide on how to organizing a French apéritif at home here. Just ask your friends to dress up as French people and to bring some french bubbly to get the party started!
♥ Listen to French music
French music is so much more than ‘La vie en rose’ and ‘La Mer’. Although there is nothing wrong with these classics (I think I just outraged half of France for a second) there are so many new incredible French bands that also deserve some love! Many of them actually sing in English as well (i.e. Phoenix, Air or Daft Punk) so there’s no excuse really. 8tracks has many French mixes available online so put on your dancing shoes and start your own mini revolution in your living room!
♥ Kiss à la francaise
Because any excuse is good enough to French kiss someone your love and to whisper a sweet ‘je t’aime’ into their ears. Très romantique!
Have you ever celebrated Bastille Day? How do you usually celebrate your country’s national day?Photos from left to right:Pretty Mayhem’s cheese platter, ‘7 easy tips to learn French’ by French lessons Brisbane, ‘It’s never been like that’ by Phoenix, ‘The kiss of the hotel de ville’ by Robert Doisneau, Scarlett Johansson for Moet & Chandon, Pretty Mayhem’s apéritif, Amélie, The Moulin Rouge, ‘La Femme Francaise’ by Garance Doré.