Applauding 5 European Bastille Day Celebrations Around the World

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 Bastille Day is a bit nostalgic for me, partially because I have a soft spot for France and partly because when I lived in Boston, we celebrated every year. Many of friends at the time were francophiles or transplants and those who weren’t, studied the language and we couldn’t resist the urge to hang out in central Boston where an event took over several streets. Every year, we danced, drank and ate fabulous food from table to table and later celebrated with a French wine tasting on someone’s deck, roof or backyard. While I was in Northern California this year (overlooking a misty sea) and wasn’t anywhere convenient to celebrate, I thought of the French and did a ching ching with friends near a fire. Below are some of the top places to celebrate around the world and where these cities did in fact celebrate yesterday.

Paris: Of course, Paris is the number one place to be for Bastille Day celebrations. The entire city has parties, parades, airplanes and fireworks. Apparently even the fire houses open their doors for balls where they serve food, drink and live music in exchange for small donations. On the morning of July 14, the French President presides over the military parade down the Champs Elysees that draws huge crowds and an aircraft flyover.

Budapest: If you’re in Eastern Europe, Budapest throws the most parties and has the most activity going on. The French Institute holds an annual two-day celebration along the banks of the Danube River and in nearby streets. The city is stunning and along the river, you get bombarded with fabulous dancing, music, French cheese, wine and other market specialties.

London: London also celebrates with vigor and there is a major Garden Party at Battersea Park, that includes live music, a Caberet performance, dancing, food and face-painting. Burough Market, one of my favorite hangouts, celebrates with an abundance of French wine, Absinthe and Champagne tastings and French food samplings.

Liege (Belgium): Liège is the biggest and the most important metropolis of Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. Apparently, Liege has only celebrated Bastille Day since WWI when the city was recognized by France’s Legion d’Honneur for its heroic efforts by resisting the Germans in the Battle of Liege. Today, Liege has one of the largest French Bastille Day celebrations in the world. There is live music, a parade, and a firework show outside the Place Des Congres (Congress Hall).

And 3 others around the world worth noting:

Cayenne, French Guiana: Cayenne (French pronunciation:) is the capital of French Guiana, an overseas region of France that enjoys the same customs, currency and holidays as France.  Here they do celebrations with a little island flavor.

New Orleans, Louisiana: New Orleans is noted to be the best city in the states to celebrate Bastille Day. Think great music, live jazz, fabulous food and tons of parties throughout the city. They celebrate for an entire week which starts off with a traditional French Mass at St. Luis Cathedral followed by fireworks on the river, poetry readings, live music and French food.

Montreal, Quebec – Canada: Some people may not realize this, but Montreal boasts being the third-largest French-speaking city in the world. Think parties, live music and people who dress up in costumes at the Old Port. There’s a Bastille Day Wine Crawl and of course, parades, festivals and other activities. A must for your list. Besides, what’s not to love about Montreal in the summer?


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