The 14th of July is traditionally the French National Day. Everywhere in France, the blue, white and red colors are hanged on balconies. It is the occasion for French people to gather and celebrate their common cultural heritage.

The beginning of the festivities starts in Paris with the traditional military parade at 10:00am on the Champs Elysées, followed by the arrival of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron. Fly-past as well as various army corps in helicopters, vehicles or motorcycles will parade all morning long, and Julie Cherrier performing the Marseillaise and the Hymne à l’Amour will close the ceremony.

Parade of Polytechnique School in 2014

Parade of Polytechnique School in 2014

The day ends traditionally with fireworks which everyone is invited to come to and watch at dusk around the Eiffel Tower in Paris. However the fireworks take place all over France, usually on the most emblematic monuments of cities and municipalities. The 10 most beautiful fireworks are ranked every year, with the blaze of the medieval city of Carcassonne being ranked first in France several years in a row.

The 14th of July is often associated with the storming of the Bastille that took place in 1789.Now used as a symbol for the abolition of the Ancien Régime, it is however incorrect to think of Bastille Day as the event that is commemorated on the 14th of July. In order to fully understand the context of our national day, let’s go back in time and learn about what happened one year after the French Revolution.

Sometime after the Bastille was taken, regional “federations” were created among the French provinces. Their creation was made possible thanks to the weakening of the absolute power which Louis XVI had benefited from. Lafayette, who feared some rebellions would arise in the country, invited the commune of Paris to create its National Federation, which gathered members of the regional federations. They were asked to meet in Paris to celebrate together the anniversary of the French Revolution. Non-officially, this national gathering was a way to unify French people who were going through an important identity crisis and eventually, the chosen date for the gathering was the 14th of July.

14 000 federal soldiers paraded in Paris under the banner of their county, from Bastille until the Champs-de-Mars. A mass was organized, and the highlight of the celebration was the speech given by Louis XVI, in which he swore before all to maintain the “Constitution that had been written by the National Assembly”. The monarchy was not contested yet and the National Union had therefore a quite strong position.
However the king was arrested and sentenced to die two years later, as well as his spouse, the queen Marie-Antoinette.

The 14th of July was not celebrated anymore for more than a century, until 1880 under the 3rd Republic. Deputy Benjamin Raspail had the idea to celebrate the 14th of July as he saw there was a need to recreate a strong national identity through historical symbols. Therefore the Marseillaise, originally written and composed in Strasbourg in 1792 under the title “War Song for the Army of the Rhine”, was adopted as national anthem, and the 14th of July was from now on the French National Day.
The idea was not well received by the National Assembly, who judged the storming of the Bastille was too bloody and not appropriate. Therefore they agreed on commemorating the 14th of July 1790, and not Bastille Day.

Fireworks at the 14th July 2013, Paris

Fireworks at the 14th July 2013, Paris

How is the 14th of July celebrated in Bordeaux this year?

Flowers will be laid down in front of Michel Montaigne high school around 9:45am. The first military ceremony will take place on Place des Quinconces, and the parade will start from Quai des Chartrons. The army will be present at 6:00pm and will start patrolling one hour later; finally, the fly-past and motorcycle parade will start in town at 8:40pm.
The bal organized by the city Town hall will be situated on Placette de Munich, facing Place des Quinconces, from 9:00pm until 01:00am. Simultaneously, the bal organized by the firefighters on Quai Deschamps will offer a pop rock concert as well as the performances of DJ Eva de Costes and Gérald Henderson, which will last until 4:00am.
To conclude the festivities, everyone is invited to watch the fireworks which will be launched from the Garonne river, between Place de la Bourse and the Stone Bridge around 10:30pm.