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wanttostroll Feb 26th, 2015 06:08 PM

Paris Bastille Day
We will be in Paris for a week during July, spanning Bastille Day. Is it worth staying within the city to experience any of the activities, (not sure what they may be though)? Are most stores and attractions closed even within the tourist areas ? Is it better to take a day trip away for Paris to avoid the assumed masses?

IMDonehere Feb 26th, 2015 07:37 PM

I was there one Bastille Day. Besides the huge militaristic parade on Champs, I did not see anything else and many restaurants were closed. I was staying near the Place de la Bastille and not even the McDonald's there offered specials.

kerouac Feb 26th, 2015 09:36 PM

The stores are open on 14 July.

The fireworks at 22:45 are spectacular.

sandralist Feb 27th, 2015 01:01 AM

A good chunk of the popular celebration happens at night, so your plan to take a day trip is likely to land you into a bigger jam of French people using public transport to come into central Paris late afternoon/early evening to see the fireworks. If you are really bothered by crowds and noise, maybe the best strategy is to scope out your neighborhood for a quiet dinner, and to spend the day doing low-key things away from the main public events and not likely to attract hordes. What neighborhood are you staying in?

wanttostroll Feb 27th, 2015 01:54 AM

We are staying in the St. Germain area - any ideas?

It is not that we are trying to avoid crowds/ noise, we just want to take advantage of the day as best we can and weren't sure if everything closed down for the day, which although we could have a lovely stroll throughout, it may have been better to sightsee away from it. With that said, if the bastille activities are fun as well, that might be the better sightseeing opportunity.

FrenchMystiqueTours Feb 27th, 2015 02:43 AM

The big activities are the parade on the Champs and the fireworks. At night the fire departments also have their balls. The Paris tourist office website will have info about these and other activities:

Jeff801 Feb 27th, 2015 03:47 AM

At about 08:00 on the morning of Bastille Day (Fete Nationale) the Garde Republican leaves its barracks near the Pont de Sully and trots off, in full regalia and accompanied by motorcycle police, to the right up the Boulevard Henri 5 towards the Place de Bastille. You can get a better view of them their than any place on the parade route. We have done that several times and then gone up to the Cafe Francois on the Place Bastille for coffee and a croissant.

Because of the balls at the fire stations, which welcome all comers, on the eve of the Fete, getting up that early is a feat of considerable will.

sandralist Feb 27th, 2015 04:49 AM

I thought the general festival spirit of July 14 was fun, although since fireworks are too loud for me, I kept some distance from that. However, I did find that immediately following the fireworks the metro got jammed with crowds, so were I ever to be in Paris again at that time, I would plan to end my evening within walking distance of where I was staying -- unless somebody who was a paris native told me my only previous experience was misleading.

Christina Feb 27th, 2015 08:45 AM

It's a holiday, so of course things are closed. It's not my national day so I don't have a lot of interest in it. There are many crowds and some firecracker danger at night, but if you don't try to go to those, it's just a slow day because it's a holiday, kind of like Sunday that's all. There is the military parade on the Champs-Elysees which I saw once and did find interesting, but you have to be up for waiting a lot in order to see anything.

It's about the same as the FOurth of July, obviously, in any big American city in terms of the fireworks issue. More stores are closed in France than in the US on that holiday, though. Do you really want to go to a lot of stores for some reason?

dlejhunt Feb 28th, 2015 04:38 PM

I was in Paris for the 14th in 2013.

The military parade was fun; however, we arrived too late to see much and lost interest after seeing Président Hollande drive down the Champs Elysées (we knew it was him because the crowd was loudly booing).

As we made our way back to our apartment in the 7th, we came across the Garde Républicain on a side street. My then 18-year-old daughter and niece particularly loved this part of the day as the (very good looking) men were posing with tourists. I spoke with a very proud French mama whose son was a member of the Garde, and my daughter and niece snapped a photo with him. I took a surreptitious photo of another member of Garde who was almost too handsome to be true (those uniforms!) and he became known to us all as "The Perfect Man" (he was my cellphone screensaver for a very long time).

So, a very nice start to our day.

Later in the evening we made our way to the Champs de Mars, found a spot near the École Militaire (which turned out to be a good strategy), and watched the fireworks. They were spectacular! What I will never forget, though, was being in a crowd of thousands of Français singing La Marseillaise. Definitely a goosebump moment!

If you are staying in the 6th you can hopefully walk back to your residence. The crowds ARE crazy, which is why finding a spot at the back of the park (away from the Eiffel Tower) is a good strategy. Our apartment was only a couple of blocks from the Champs de Mars and we had no problem getting home.

The city was in a celebratory mood, though the 14th is not celebrated in France as the 4th is celebrated in the US. No people wearing French flag t-shirts or bleu, blanc, rouge, that is for sure! However, restaurants and shops are open and there are plenty of places to eat (maybe not so many to buy groceries, though).

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