Bastille Day in Paris

Apr 16th, 2005, 01:24 PM
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Bastille Day in Paris

I know there's a parade down the Champs Elysee, and fireworks in the Champ de Mars, but has anyone been to either, and if so are they any good, and can you recommend anything else worth doing or seeing?
julia_t is offline  
Apr 16th, 2005, 01:49 PM
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I love a good parade, but frankly the Bastille Day one in Paris left me bored and we left after an hour or so. It is essentially a parade of "military display" and after watching about a million tanks moving along at about half a kilometer per hour, and half a million soldiers in jeeps, etc., that was enough for me.

The first time we were there on Bastille Day, they told us at our hotel that the BEST place to see the fireworks would be from the Pont Neuf. Duh. That's where we went, but you could only see a few of the fireworks -- those which went high enough not to be blocked by the many trees and buildings between us and Champ de Mars which is a long way off.
Next time we crowded in at the Trocadero. That was a real zoo, but at least there was a great view of the fireworks.
It's just kind of a relaxed and fun day. I assume this summer they will repeat the "beach" along the Seine opposite Ile St. Louis (along the right bank). That's kind of fun during the summer.
Patrick is offline  
Apr 16th, 2005, 02:18 PM
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We didn't go to the parade, but watched some coverage of it on TV. Patrick is right-- think "military review". No bands, floats, or anything fun.

The fireworks, though, are worth seeing.

A fantastic place to see the fireworks is from the tour boats on the river. We did that last year on the Vedettes de Paris and it was great.

You can reserve online-- they have special Bastille day cruises, with or without dinner.

We did the one without dinner, but you can take your own picnic and wine. You take the usual boat ride down the Seine at dusk, then the boat docks right in front of the Eiffel tower and you stay on the boat for the fireworks display.

We loved it, and would definitely do it again!
marcy_ is offline  
Apr 16th, 2005, 08:06 PM
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There are dances open to the public at most Paris firehouses in the evening.
Underhill is offline  
Apr 16th, 2005, 08:11 PM
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Are the parties at the firehouses the evening before Bastille day, or on the actual holiday?

Last year I was under the impression that they were held the evening before.
marcy_ is offline  
Apr 16th, 2005, 08:48 PM
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Here is another vote for skipping the parade unless you are truly interested in the military.

We too went to Trocadero to see the fireworks and met the biggest mob of people I've ever seen in my life. If travelling with a group, be sure to have a plan in the event that you are separated. Also, check to see what time is the last metro if you think you will be out "celebrating" rather late.

As far as dining that night, be sure to arrange your dinner plans early. Many restaurants were booked solid for the night.

One year, we spent the 14th in Blois and had a marvelous time. It was on a less grand scale than Paris, but it was still a fun place to be.

moldyhotelsaregross is offline  
Apr 16th, 2005, 09:24 PM
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best fireworks show I ever saw was in Reims on Bastille Day 1981
bigtyke is offline  
Apr 18th, 2005, 02:10 PM
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Been to both, love both. I also love a good parade and am not terribly fond of the military type parades, but I thought the parade was REALLY fun, especially with the planes flying in formation overhead throughout the parade, and red, white and blue smoke shooting out of the end tails.

If you go to the parade, remember that the metro stations along the route are closed that morning, so you need to get there early. Even if you arrive and are blocked by the people on the street, you can buy periscopes for about 5 euro that enables you to see over everyone's head. The French President ordinarily is part of the parade.

Marcy's commentary on seeing the fireworks is right on the money. It was funny, because I replied to a message of hers explaining the best place to see the fireworks, and last summer we ended up on the same boat and didn't know it!

The firestation bals are on the 13th, the night before. Get there early if you want to get in and drink; by 10 p.m. the queue to get inside is horrendous and once inside it's so claustrophic with pounding techno-music and inebriated people acting silly, it takes on a whole new tone (okay for 20 somethings, but not so fun for anyone over 30, unless you don't mind getting beer spilled on you).

Each year there are more specific types of celebrations throughout the City. A few years ago, for example, there was a mile long "picnic in the park" in the Luxembourg Gardens, where families and their pets came to picnic, spreading out bright picnic tablecloths on the grass in a continuous line.

Some museums are open, and most bars and restaurants.
Surfergirl is offline  
Apr 18th, 2005, 07:21 PM
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The dances at the fire stations are not all on the 13th. The majority are, but there are a good number on the 14th, also. The best thing is simply to buy a copy of Pariscope or one of those entertainment guides which should list all events and where/when.

I think the problem is using the English word "parade" and its connotations to say the military revue is boring and not what a real parade is. The whole point of this holiday is that it is a national day, not just some festive thing for fun, and the military revue is for that purpose. It isn't meant to be a festive holiday with floats like an Orange Bowl parade or something like that. I didn't think it was boring at all the one time I went, and I don't particularly like parades or national days, nor do I have a strong affection for militaries. I thought it was interesting to see some of those old tanks they brought out which were really of historical interest, and to see all the various contingents of uniformed persons. I thought it was interesting.

I haven't seen the fireworks as I am not that interested in those kind of things, but I think they are certainly good fireworks from what I've read, the problem is getting a good view and dealing with the crowds. I've been in Paris probably at least six times on Bastille Day and haven't ever seen them because I don't like crowds.
Christina is offline  
Apr 18th, 2005, 08:06 PM
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I loved Bastille Day in Ajaccio, Corsica where the huge fireworks extravaganza was all red, white, and green (not blue). It's as if nobody told the Corsicans they're really French, not Italian. I was almost surprised they celebrated Bastille Day at all.
Patrick is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 08:38 AM
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hi marcy or surfergirl..
we are interested in the fireworks and your option of river seine cruise seems to be a great one. We are planning to book in advance for our visit in july.
can you please post the links for booking the cruise on bastille day (without dinner)? i could not find the one without dinner in Vedettes de Paris website ( i used the English version )
parisinjuly is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 09:56 AM
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Last year the Bastille day cruises only showed up on the French version, not the English, and I don't think tickets were available until a month or so ahead of time.

The web address is:
marcy_ is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 11:13 AM
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Thanks everyone for your input. I hadn't thought of a Seine cruise before; like parisinjuly I found a Vedettes-in-Paris website in English, and have emailed them but have had no response, so thanks Marcy for your advice. And parisinjuly - how about a GTG in Paris in July? We are there 12-16th, possibly a couple of days longer. Apart from Bastille Day and Disneyland Paris on the 15th, I have no fixed plans....
julia_t is offline  
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