Celebrating Bastille Day in Paris: Our Full 2024 Guide

Last Updated on May 24, 2024

bastille day in Paris usually includes a fireworks show near the Eiffel Tower

Celebrated every July 14th with much pomp, circumstance, good cheer and fun, Bastille Day in Paris is an occasion marking France’s “Fête Nationale”, or National Celebration. It’s an opportunity to see enormous, fanfare-filled parades and flyovers on and near the famed Avenue des Champs-Elysées, watch colorful fireworks take over Parisian skies after dark, and to take part in other cultural activities that’ll make you feel closer to French history.

Wondering what’s happening this year in the French capital? Keep reading for full details on Bastille Day celebrations in Paris in 2024, which will fall just days before the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in the capital.

It’s pretty much guaranteed to be an exciting one, especially since the Olympic Flame will travel to Paris on July 14th, just in time for the Fête de la Bastille!

The flame will be displayed on the evening of July 14th at Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall), which will remain open all night long to visitors. You can see the flame for free there, before it’s displayed elsewhere in the city on the 15th. See this page at Sortir à Paris for more information in English.

Bastille Day 2024: Parade & Flyover to Fete the Olympics

Almost every year without fail since 1880, an enormous military parade has proceeded down the grand Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris to mark the occasion of Bastille Day and the establishment of the French Republic.

But in 2024, the traditional parade will not be taking place on the Champs-Elysées-– instead, the procession will follow a route between the Nation and Porte de Vincennes metro stations, and be accompanied by the Olympic flame (which will have arrived in the city that day).

Check back here soon for more information on the 2024 parade, and see more on the traditions behind it below.

Bastille Day celebrations on Paris' Avenue des Champs-Elysées include a military parade and aerial show. 2017/Public domain

Generally attended by the French President and other dignitaries, the parade features thousands of French military personnel dressed in full regalia, triumphant music, dancing and acrobatic performances, an aerial show featuring airplanes and helicopters from the French army and air forces, and other forms of celebration. You can watch the video below to see highlights from the 2023 festivities.

In certain years, the parade has also commemorated victims of past atrocities and/or invited members of other countries and cultures to join the festivities, fostering a spirit of memory and cultural exchange.

In 2024, the parade will likely kick off at 10 am, but details on where and when to see it have yet to be announced. Check back for further updates soon.

The ceremonies and subsequent parade generally last around two to three hours and are televised, so if you can’t be there in person, you can always watch them on any French TV station or international French cable news channel such as France 24.

Bastille Day Fireworks in Paris: 2024 Program

Fireworks in Paris on Bastille Day, 2010. Image credit: Joshua Veitch-Michaelis/Creative Commons
Fireworks in Paris on Bastille Day, 2010. Image credit: Joshua Veitch-Michaelis/Creative Commons

Elaborate fireworks displays have long been a beloved staple in Bastille Day celebrations in Paris and across France, starting in the late 19th century when color fireworks were invented.

In Paris, official fireworks generally take over the skies of western Paris (near the Eiffel Tower and the Jardins de Trocadero) about an hour before midnight on the 14th.

In 2024, the fireworks will be fired from around 11:00 p.m. from the Jardin de la Trocadero. Spectators are invited to watch the fireworks from the vast lawns of the Champs de Mars (RER station: Champs de Mars-Tours Eiffel).

The show typically lasts for 30 minutes and affords fantastic opportunities to take shots of the Eiffel Tower and Paris skyline dominated by bright illuminations. This year, the fireworks are likely to commemorate the Olympic and Paralympic games (more details to follow in late June).

Make sure to arrive very early to get a good spot, and remember that all metro stations and RER stations surrounding the area will likely close at 7:00 pm (more details to be confirmed in June 2024).

Firefighters’ Balls in Paris: 2024 Happenings

Firemen's balls in Paris are a popular Bastille Day activity.
Image credit: BVJ Hostel Paris

One quirky and delightfully camp Bastille Day tradition in the French capital takes place on both the evenings of the 13th and the 14th July in select fire stations and other special locations around Paris.

These bals des pompiers (firefighters’ balls) feature live music, dancing (sometimes from the firemen themselves), games, brightly colored decorations and other festive events and activities.

See this page for a full list of firemen’s balls in 2024, most taking place in Paris on the evening of July 13th. Some bals charge admission fees, while others request donations. All proceeds go to improving conditions for firefighting stations and staff.

Seine River Cruises on Bastille Day

Interested in watching the Bastille Day fireworks from a cruise on the Seine River? This is an extremely popular and in-demand way to take in the illuminations on July 14th– so make sure to reserve as soon as you can.

Why not take an evening river cruise of the Seine, complete with live music, to mark the occasion in a festive way (and hopefully get to take in the fireworks boatside)? You can book the cruise here (via GetYourGuide).

Also consider taking the French Revolution Walking Tour to learn more about how the Bastille Day celebrations fit into the country’s long, fascinating journey toward becoming a Republic. You can book here (via GetYourGuide).

Other Ways to Celebrate Bastille Day in Paris or at Home This Year

Having a Paris-style picnic is always a good idea. Image credit: parispicnic.com

If you’re more attracted by the idea of a low-key celebration away from the biggest crowds, or won’t be in France but want to celebrate Bastille Day at home, here are a couple of great ways to mark the occasion in a more relaxed way.

First, why not stage a Parisian-style picnic somewhere to celebrate la fête nationale? Whether it’s in a Parisian park or square such as La Place des Vosges or on the banks of the Ile Saint-Louis, the vibe is sure to be festive and summery.

I recommend procuring some good bread and cheese, pastries, fruit, quiches and other fare from a local bakery or market, and settling in for a mid-summer picnic as the sun sets over the city. (Remember, you can also do this at home or elsewhere).

I recommend a stroll through markets such as the Marché d’Aligre to stock up on superb and affordable goodies for your picnic. You can see a list of our other favorite food markets in the capital here.

Add a few mini French flags to boost the festive mood, and/or listen to our free playlist of Paris-themed songs to create an authentic mood.

If you’re having a Bastille day party in your own backyard or garden, consider serving French wines or champagne, and serving easy but impressive French-style appetizers at home (some great ideas here)? You can even serve up a Bastille-Day cake decorated in the colors of the tricolor flag for a festive end note.

Learn More About the History of Bastille Day

The History of Bastille Day in France begins on July 14th, 1789.
Anonymous. Versailles, chateaux de Versailles et de Trianon. MV5517.

Curious to dig a bit deeper and learn about the fascinating history of Bastille Day/”La Fête Nationale”? Its a lot more complex than most people believe it to be, as we explain in this piece.

While most people associate La Fête de la Bastille with revolutionary fervor and the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris– the event that most historians say was one of the key triggers of the French Revolution of 1789– the celebration itself has had different meanings since then, and “La Fête Nationale” was only observed for the first time in 1880!

See more on the history of Bastille Day in our in-depth feature, here.

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celebrating Bastille Day in Paris: Pinterest image by Paris Unlocked/All rights reserved

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