Bastille Day balls are free and popular with people of all ages. The music can include anything from French chanson or musette to old-time classics, house or techno. Balls are usually held in major squares and in front of town halls of some arrondissements. They begin around 9pm and continue until 4am.
Grand Bal du Mix, Institut des Cultures d’Islam (ICI), 19 rue Léon, 18th, M: Château Rouge
Mix Ta Race, a modern Middle Eastern music collective, will perform beginning at 8:30pm on Saturday, July12th.
Bal Populaire, rue Eugène Spuller, 3rd, M: République, Temple
A traditional neighborhood bal with music and dancing at the local mairie, or town hall in the North Marais. A family affair with a children’s ball starting at 7:30pm. Adult dancing gets under way beginning at 9:30pm on Sunday, July 13th.
Fireman’s Balls - 13th and 14th
The fireman’s balls are among the friendliest and best-organized parties in Paris. They make an essential contribution to quatorze juillet merriment. This year most balls operate on both the 13th and the 14th, and open around 9pm, but don’t get going until later in the evening. Entry is usually free, although a donation may be requested. There are long lines to get into the more popular spots. Some feature live bands and food stalls, and most continue until dawn.
It is advisable to patronize the ball within walking distance of your home unless you plan to stay out until the metro starts again the following morning. Cabs are very rare. The venues in bold are those that are most central or most interesting (dancing in Roman ruins!).
July 13th ONLY
Arènes de Lutèce, 4 rue Monge, 5th (in the ruins of the Roman arena)
Landon, 200 quai de Valmy, 10th (at the Canal St. Martin), from 5pm
Blanche, 28 rue Blanche, 9th, M: Blanche
Massena, 37 bd Massena, 13th, M: Porte d’Italie
Boursault, 27 rue Boursault, 17th, M: Rome
Montmartre, 12 rue Carpeaux, 18th, M: Guy-Môquet
Ménilmontant, 47 rue Saint-Fargeau, 20th, M: Saint-Fargeau
JULY 13th and 14th
Sevigné, 7 rue de Sevigné, 4th, M: St. Paul
Colombier, 11 rue du Vieux-Colombier, 6th, M: St. Sulpice
Port-Royal, 53-55 bd Port Royal, 13th, M: Les Gobelins, RER : Port Royal
Rousseau, 21 rue du Jour, 1st, M: Les Halles
Chaligny, 26 rue de Chaligny, 12th, M: Faidherbe-Chaligny
Grenelle, 6 place Violet, 15 th, M: Commerce (near the Eiffel Tower)
Bitche, 2 place de Bitche, 19th, M: Crimée (on the Canal de l’Ourcq)
Beware of firecracker-tossing teenagers!
Note: A long-standing Bastille Day tradition is for teenagers (referring to both chronological and mental age) to throw firecrackers into crowds at people’s feet. This holiday is a “go wild in the streets” kind of affair. Watch your pockets, bags, feet, and be prepared for a BIG PARTY CRUSH.
July 14th – World War I Commemorations
Spahi uniform 2006
The annual show of French military muscle starts at the Place de l’Etoile at 9am when military troops begin assembling. At 10am President François Hollande will inspect the troops before leading them down the Champs to the Place de la Concorde. This year’s festivities commemorate the centennial of the beginning of the Great War (World War I). The guests of honor are from the 80 nations that participated in WWI as combatants or in other support capacities. An air show opens the parade. Students from the elite Ecole polytechnique lead the ground troops. Look for the Foreign Legion soldiers with their traditional beards, aprons and hatchets slung over their shoulders, the Spahis with their flowing Moroccan capes. You can follow the parade on the program link below. The motorized brigades and the cavalry bring up the rear. An aerial display will end the festivities and the President will leave at noon to prepare for the annual garden party at the Elysées Palace.
The best place to watch the parade is on TV. If you go to the parade, take a metro to Kleber or Ternes and then walk. The métro stops along the Champs-Elysées will be closed.
Chemin de Mémoire des Parachutistes
After the parade, representatives of the different military branches will gather in 8 central arrondissements to answer questions and show off their high-tech arsenal. The main events are at the Esplanade des Invalides, 7th (helicopters and parachutists); and Place de la Nation, 11th, 12th, 20th. Other central sites are the Place Saint-Sulpice, 6th; Place de l’Opera, 9th; Pantheon, 5th; and Gare de l’Est, 10th (the departure point for soldiers headed to the Front during WWI). Army bands will perform at each venue.
Fireworks - 2014 Theme: Que Vive la Paix
Marie-Ange Ostré © 2009Un Monde Ailleurs
The half-hour show will begin at 11 pm on July 14th on the Champs de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, between Place Jacques Rueff and the Ecole Militaire, M: Ecole Militaire. This is a very crowded event, so get there very early if you want a good spot and be prepared for crowds (Most of the Champs de Mars will be closed off). Many people will bring a picnic beginning around 6pm, and listen to the free classical music concert by the Orchestre National de France with music by Wagner, Donizetti, Prokiev and Tchaikovsky. 9:30-11pm.
Note on fireworks: The suburbs surrounding Paris often organize firework displays on the evening of the 13th so if you are close to the periphery, you may see fireworks on the horizon.
Free Bastille Day Concert
Puccini’s La Bohème will be presented at the Opera Bastille at 7:30pm. Tickets are free as long as
Bastille Day Freebies and Open Shops
- The Louvre will be open on July 14th until 6pm. Entrance is free.
- Napoleon’s Tomb and the Musée de l’Armée at the Invalides are open and free on the 14th until 6pm.
- Many shops will be closed on the 14th for the holiday.
- Les pique-niques are traditional on le quatorze juillet along the banks of the Seine, in parks and on the pedestrian bridge, the Pont des Arts.
- A list of museums open on July 14th and other activities in English here. http://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/major-events/paris-celebrates-july-14th/recommendations-for-the-national-holiday/recommendations-for-the-national-holiday
Additional information in English.