There are three reasons France is considered one of the world’s top tourist destinations; culture, class and charm. Whether it’s the famous white, mountainous scenery of the French Alps, the limestone walls of the Verdon Gorge or the artist city of Paris; France has always been an attractive destination for its variety and lifestyle.
Seen as a firm pillar of Europe, France is considered, by many, a country with an uplifting influence. Its citizens define themselves by their nationality rather than religion. With a history of liberation and independence, France enjoys honouring its heritage and embracing change. One shining example of this would be La Fête Nationale or Bastille Day, a national celebration of freedom and independence. This national holiday is celebrated on 14th July every year, in many forms, across all of France and in recent years, many other countries too.
Bastille day honours the beginning of the French Revolution, with the charge of the Bastille on 14th July 1789. It also marks the unity of the French people that occurred the following year, known as the Fête de le Fédération on 14th July 1790. Bastille was a medieval style prison fortress, considered to represent royal authority and used to house political members who had shown pro-revolutionary ideals. When the Bastille prison was taken, after days of street demonstrations, it marked the beginning of a new era of government and liberation for the people of France.
The Fête de le Fédération was the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and honoured the new unity of the French people. It was to be celebrated with all the brilliance that local resources would allow. To this day, those against celebrating the day of unrest and rebellion are appeased by the Fête de le Fédération, as the idea is to unify a nation. In 1790, La Fête Nationale was celebrated with four-day feasts and running naked through the streets of Paris to demonstrate their freedom. Today’s celebrations have altered quite a bit.
The Bastille military parade starts off the celebration, with infantry and motorized troops falling into procession, starting at Ll’Arc de Triomphe and ending at the Place de la Concorde. Recent years have seen an invitation extended to allied forces, easily spotted with the Royal Air Force Red Arrows display.
As Bastille Day is a national holiday, most French communes hold local speeches and wreath- laying within their communities. Once military tradition has been honoured, the people of France celebrate with parades, music, food, wine and fireworks. Celebrated for its wine and cuisine, many markets and tents are opened for the crowds to help celebrate a day that is draped in the red, white and blue of the national flag, with a celebratory atmosphere enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
The only other officially sanctioned spectacle, in addition to the morning military parade, is the evening firework display. Beginning at 10.30pm, from the Trocadero near the Eiffel Tower, the illuminating firework and pyrotechnic display is a French annual highlight and gathers a crowd of thousands, who sit together to watch the unforgettable show.
Bastille Day is a show of freedom and unity. The celebration is now honoured in countries such as; the United Kingdom, United States, India and Belgium. It is a festival of gratitude for the lifestyle, freedoms and liberties their ancestors fought for and a reminder of the passion and strength of one nation.
Where will you celebrate Bastille Day this week?