Bastille Day, known in France as "La Fête Nationale" or "Le Quatorze Juillet," marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison on 14 July 1789. This event was a turning point in the French Revolution, symbolising the end of monarchical tyranny and the rise of the French Republic. Celebrated across the nation, Bastille Day is a testament to the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

The storming of the Bastille was a dramatic event that represented the people's fight against oppression. Although the prison housed only seven prisoners, its fall was symbolic of the monarchy's downfall. The French Revolution that followed brought profound social, political, and economic changes, laying the foundation for modern democratic principles. In 1880, Bastille Day was declared a national holiday, celebrating the ideals that define the French Republic.

Celebrating Bastille day in France

Celebrating Bastille Day in France is a nationwide affair marked by patriotism and community spirit. From bustling cities to quiet villages, the day is filled with various activities that reflect the nation's pride and heritage. The morning typically begins with a military parade, the most famous of which is held on the Champs-Élysées in Paris and attended by the President of the Republic. Throughout the day, towns and cities host public gatherings, music performances, and traditional markets. The evening culminates in spectacular fireworks displays that light up the skies, often accompanied by communal dances and festivities in public squares. Bastille Day is not just a historical commemoration but a vibrant celebration of French culture and unity, bringing together people of all ages to celebrate their shared values of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

How do the French say "Happy Bastille Day"?

“Joyeux 14 Juillet” or “Bonne Fête Nationale”

Bastille day in Provence

Provence, with its rich history and beautiful landscapes, offers a unique setting for Bastille Day celebrations. Known for its charming towns and Mediterranean coastline, Provence provides a vibrant atmosphere for both locals and tourists. Here are three prime locations in the heart of Provence to experience Bastille Day.


Aix-en-Provence is renowned for its cultural heritage and vibrant Bastille Day festivities. The celebrations here are a mix of being very traditional whilst also contemporary. The Rotonde Fountain is the centrepiece of the Bastille Day celebrations in Aix-en-Provence. The fireworks display here is a must-see, with the sky illuminated in a myriad of colours. Before the fireworks, the Cours Mirabeau, the main boulevard, is bursting with music and dance performances from local artists. A military parade in the morning honours the French armed forces in Aix-en-Provence. Following the parade, a traditional Provencal market offers local delicacies and handcrafted goods. The day concludes with a communal dance, the "bal populaire," inviting everyone to join in the celebration.


Avignon is a renowned spot for Bastille Day festivities. The city's medieval history and modern way of celebrating is an exciting mix. Avignon hosts various cultural events throughout the day, including street performances, live music, and theatrical shows. The Festival d'Avignon, a major contemporary performing arts event, often coincides with Bastille Day, bringing double the fun. Public squares and parks are filled with locals enjoying picnics and al fresco meals. 


We appreciate this is a bit of a drive, but for those passionate about Bastille day - or those who just love a good fireworks show and party the trip will be worth it. The Old Port of Marseille is the focal point of Bastille Day celebrations in the city. The fireworks display here is one of the largest in Provence, attracting thousands of spectators. The harbour provides a perfect vantage point, with the fireworks lighting up the sea and the historic Fort Saint-Jean. Marseille's lively music scene is played on Bastille Day, with numerous concerts ranging from traditional French music to contemporary performances. Dance troupes perform in public squares, encouraging everyone to participate in the celebrations. Marseille's maritime heritage is highlighted with a nautical parade featuring boats decorated in the French tricolour. The parade emphasises the city's connection to the sea and its historical significance as a port. 

Bastille Day in Provence is a celebration of French history, culture, and unity. Whether you are in Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, or Marseille, the festivities provide a unique and memorable experience. The fireworks, parades, music, and communal gatherings reflect the spirit of the French Republic and the joy of its people. As you partake in these celebrations, you become part of the rich tapestry of French heritage and the enduring legacy of the French Revolution.

A bientôt,

The Provence Holidays Team