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Bastille Day in Paris

What to do and how, when and where to see fireworks on Bastille Day, Thursday July 14 2016

© Yann Caradec

When? Thursday July 14 2016 (including the evening before and into the small hours)
What? Street parties, parades and fireworks celebreate the most iconic date of the French Revolution.
Where? Place de la Bastille, the Champs Elysées, Champ de Mars and city fire stations.

France’s famous summer national holiday commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789. This year, the festival falls on Thursday July 14 2016. The evening before the holiday, Parisians dance at Place de la Bastille. At 10am on the 14th, crowds line up along the Champs-Elysées as the President reviews a full military parade. By night, the Champ de Mars fills for the firework display.

If you want to pick a prime spot to enjoy the city-wide Bastille Day fireworks displays, check out our list of recommendations below – but be sure to book well in advance.

Bal des Pompiers

An unmissable Bastille Day tradition, the Bal des Pompiers (Fireman’s Ball) is the time to crack out your best summery dresses and red lipstick. Accordion music, tombola and men in uniform await on the nights of July 13 and 14 – more than a little kitsch, perhaps, but guaranteed good fun. Parties are held at fire stations throughout Paris from around 9pm until the small hours.

Four Bals des Pompiers to catch on July 13 and 14 2016

Caserne Ménilmontant – July 13

Caserne Ménilmontant – July 13

There’s lots of scope to enjoy the festivities at the Caserne Ménilmontant on the Rue Saint-Fargeau, with all sorts of surprises planned throughout the evening. Eschewing the traditional French Bal des Pompiers traditions, the gym will apparently be transformed into a champagne bar and a DJ will play out tunes to get the crowds cavorting.

Caserne Rousseau – July 13 and 14

Caserne Rousseau – July 13 and 14

For a typical, authentic Bal des Pompiers, your best bet is probably this event at the Caserne Rousseau in the centre of the city. Expect copious amounts of drink and a small firework display – making it perfect for tourists wanting a real feel for the July 14 traditions, while also getting a wee bit drunk.

Caserne Blanche – July 13

Caserne Blanche – July 13

You couldn’t get more a French soirée than a night out at the Caserne Blanche in Pigalle, especially this July 13, as they’ve a traditional dance night planned, and most excitingly, a sausage buffet. What more could you want? 

Caserne Port-Royal – July 13 and 14

Caserne Port-Royal – July 13 and 14

For all those looking for an alternative Bal des Pompiers, head on down to the Caserne Port-Royal, not far from the Jardin du Luxembourg. Should you have the stamina, you could even turn it into a two-day party, as the festivities take place on both July 13 and 14.

See the Bastille Day fireworks from a Paris vantage point

Front-row seat • Arc de Triomphe

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Champs Élysées and western Paris

Way up high • Tour Montparnasse

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Built in 1974 on the site of the old station, this 209m (686ft) steel-and-glass monolith is actually shorter than the Eiffel Tower, but better placed for fabulous views of the city – including, of course, the Eiffel Tower itself. A lift whisks you up in 38 seconds to the 56th floor, where you'll find a display of aerial scenes of Paris, an upgraded café-lounge, a souvenir shop – and lots and lots of sky. On a clear day you can see up to 40km (25 miles). Another lift takes you all the way up to the roof...

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Montparnasse and south Paris

Iconic restaurant • Le Georges

When the Pompidou Centre closes at 9pm, those in the know head to the top floor via the transparent escalators to Georges, the museum’s panoramic French-fusion restaurant. From this privileged perch, you can watch the sun set over the capital’s steely rooftops and contemplate the art you’ve just admired, cocktail in hand. You’ll be fighting for table room with trendy after-work crowds, and the ice-cool service can be slower than an escargot, but it’s a small price to pay for such an unbeatable vantage over the whole sparkling city...

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4th arrondissement

Bar with a view • Ô Paris

One evening on the terrace of this bar and you too will be singing ‘Ô Paris, c'est beau Paris!’. Formerly La Mer à Boire, its view takes in the whole city. In one glance you can drink it all in, from the Eiffel Tower to far beyond. High above the whirlpool of humanity below, the terrace of Ô Paris nestles on a little square of land, paved and planted with trees, where you can enjoy some sunshine and calm away from the hum of the city. Largely populated by senior citizens leafing through the papers and local kids running around between the tables, this is a homey and welcoming spot...

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Inside the Tuileries • Le Saut du Loup

Museums are usually daytime destinations, places of discovery that welcome their guests then politely expel them well before dusk. However the Saut du Loup, set inside the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, has made a concerted effort to reel in the Parigots after hours with a dapper restaurant, terrace views to die for over the Tuileries gardens, and a bar that’ll knock you up a cocktail or two before bedtime. You can always tell a good joint from the quality of its mojitos, and Le Saut du Loup’s version of the drink passes the test...

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1st arrondissement

From the river • Bateaux-Mouches

There’s no denying that the River Seine’s a good-looker: Her bridge-freckled curves are punctuated with some of the world’s most beautiful monuments, and her tree-lines quays sit like ready-made postcards on the water’s edge. By far the best way to drink it all in is from the panoramic deck of one of a Paris’s iconic Bateaux Mouches riverboats. The route starts at Pont d’Alma on the Right Bank, sails past Concorde, the Louvre and Hôtel de Ville before turning at the tip of Île-Saint-Louis and riding up the Left Bank stretch past the Eiffel Tower...

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8th arrondissement

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