Bastille Day

Bastille day is the biggest French holiday.

It is celebrated on the 14thof July and in France is known as Le quatorze juillet or La Fête Nationale (the national holiday).

On July 14, 1789 the revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, the prison known for incarcerating political prisoners.

Although there were only seven prisoners there at the time, the altercation represented the lack of control of the monarchy, under King Louis XVI and the beginning of the French revolution, leading to formation of the first French republic in 1792.

The French republic’s three ideals are Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for all.

French Monarchy

The French monarchy had ruled for centuries. The current King was Louis XVI and his wife was Marie-Antoinette.

In addition to being corrupt, the citizens had little food.

A revolutionary group formed in Paris and stole thousands of rifles from the Hôtel des Invalides. In need of gunpowder, for the rifles, the mob decided to storm the Bastille, which had a store of gunpowder.


  • Festive Bastille Day celebrations are held all over France, however, the parade on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris is the most exciting.

  • The parade includes all four arms of the French military and runs from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.

  • The night before Bastille Day, on July 13, there is a festive costume ball, le bal du 14 Juillet, which is held o n the Place de la Bastille. There are also gala celebrations at the firehouses - les bals des pompiers.
  • The traditional celebratory colors are those of the French flag (tricolor), red (rouge), white (blanc) and blue(bleu)

The French National Anthem

La marseillaise , the French National anthem was written in 1792 by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle.

Allons enfants de la Patrie,

Le jour de gloire est arrivé !

Contre nous de la tyrannie,

L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)

Entendez-vous dans les campagnes

Mugir ces féroces soldats ?

Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras

Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !

Aux armes, citoyens,

Formez vos bataillons,

Marchons, marchons !

Qu'un sang impur

Abreuve nos sillons !

Arise, children of the Fatherland,

The day of glory has arrived!

Against us tyranny

Raises its bloody banner (repeat)

Do you hear, in the countryside,

The roar of those ferocious soldiers?

They're coming right into your arms

To cut the throats of your sons and women!

To arms, citizens,

Form your battalions,

Let's march, let's march!

Let an impure blood

Water our furrows!

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