In this article, I will explain how was my experience in Paris on Bastille day as a tourist. To acquaint you with Bastille day: what Bastille day actually is, what it means and why it is celebrated every year in France. Let me start with a little background.
Bastille day is a common name given to French national day which is formally called la Fête Nationale (The National Celebration).
Bastille was basically a military tower in Paris, which was used as a state prison for centuries by the kings of France. It held many political dissidents who were kept there for years without trial. It had become a symbol of injustice and oppression of the French monarchy.
On 14 July 1789, a large mob of angry Parisian revolutionists invaded the Bastille stealing weapons inside and also releasing the prisoners. This incident later proved to be the end of tyrannical rule and beginning of the new era known as French Revolution.
During this invasion, the Bastille building was completely destroyed and now only a memorial stands on the site.
The first Bastille Day celebrations took place after one year of the storming, in the spot where the Eiffel Tower now stands. That’s why Eiffel Tower was officially opened in 1889, exactly a century after the storming of Bastille to celebrate the 100th anniversary.
BASTILLE DAY CELEBRATIONS
It was proposed by a French politician to make this day a holiday in 1880. Since then, French troops have marched each year in the morning along the Champs-Elysées in Paris. The parade event is usually opened by the French president, who addresses the troops. This event is attended by world leaders. Thousands of people gather there to watch the one of the world oldest parades.
Throughout the day, there are different dance events, communal meals, musical performances, street parties in the country and at the night there is a grand firework show at Eiffel tower.
If you want to learn more about its history and celebration visit this website
I visited Paris with my husband on 14th July 2017. Our flight arrived Charles de Gaulle Airport at 11 am so we had already missed the chance to see the parade in the morning. We took our luggage and purchased two sim cards from the airport. All the transport services were still working that day so we decided to commute through the RER bus from the airport to get inside the Paris city. The ticket was 10 euro each and was much cheaper than Ober. It was a 50-minute journey but we enjoyed the views on the way.
At around 1 pm, we reached Gare du Nord station from which we had to take another metro to reach our hotel. We reached our hotel at around 2 pm. It took us around 2 and a half hours from airport to reach our hotel because first, we didn’t know much about comprehending metro maps at that point and we faced difficulty finding the next route for our hotel from the Gare du Nord station. And second, we had luggage to carry around with us. So, Although it’s expensive but I would recommend hiring Ober car service, if you can, to reach your hotel on the first day especially if you are visiting Paris for the first time and are not familiar with Paris city and metros.
Our hotel Hotel du Nord et ell Est had a very peaceful neighborhood and it had two metro stations (Oberkamf and Republique’) at two-three minutes walk away which was very convenient. We checked in, put our luggage in the room and refresh ourselves. We had already purchased Paris Passes before coming and we had to collect those from its office, so we decided to get our passes first and then went to Eiffel tower to watch the fireworks display in the evening.
We took a metro from the Oberkampf station and reached the Pyramides station to get our Paris Passes from the Big Bus office, near the Louvre. After collecting our pass we went inside Palais Royal Musee du Louvre. We also roam around the Louvre pyramids and enjoy our time there. The museum was closed that time so we didn’t go inside the pyramid. There were lots of people around enjoying there time in the Park.
We walked all the way on the sides of Jardin des Tuileries, crossing river Seine through the Leopold Sedar Senghor bridge and reaching in front of Muse’e d’Orsay. From there, we ate Nutella filled crepes from the street. We still had a lot of time to watch the Fireworks show at Eiffel Tower in the evening. So we started walking towards Eiffel Tower.
We now wonder how we walked such long distance from Musee d’Orsay all the way to Eiffel Tower but at that time we were enjoying everything on the way from beautiful architecture of the buildings to the amazing mixture of tourists and Parisians, from the delicious smells coming from nearby bakeries to the mesmerizing view of iconic Eiffel Tower. We stopped at New Jawad, a Pakistani-Indian halal food restaurant to eat something but it fully packed and there was a long waiting line outside. So we took our food and headed towards Eiffel tower again.
We reached Champ de Mars at around 6-7 pm, almost 4 hours earlier to get the spot in front of Eiffel Tower. But the park was already well crowded so we grab a place in pedestrian lane inside the park. We had brought our food with us so we finished it first. Also, the show was going to start at 11:30 pm. People were coming with their families and friends. Security was high and helicopters were also flying above the area. I was amazed by the daylight at 10 pm because in my country it started to get dark usually at 6-7 pm.
There was a real music show going on two hours before starting the fireworks to entertain the people. Another thing that was amazing is that in Paris temperature gets quite lower in the evenings even in the summer. We were not prepared for that and didn’t bring any coats or sweaters with us. So taking lots of layers with you is highly recommended, otherwise, you’ll end up shivering in cold. The temperature reached almost 15-degree centigrade when the show started.
The fireworks show was so beautiful and magical. Everyone stood up to see the show and of course to film it as well and so did I. But while capturing it in my camera I enjoyed the real view as well. As that is more important than just focusing on filming and missing the actual show. There were thousands of people gathered there in Champ de Mars (excluding the people who were seeing from other parts of the Paris). There were songs going on, which were also well synchronized with the fireworks like I love Paris by Doris Day, We were staying in Paris by Chainsmokers and Nation by Tibz which we liked and enjoyed very much.
The fireworks show lasted for half an hour and then exactly at midnight when the show ended everyone started getting out of the garden. There were no vehicles to be seen on the roads, just horde of people. All the stations near the tower were closed that time so we had to walk almost 2 miles to reach Franklin D. Roosevelt station. We reached our hotel at 1:30 am hell tired but it was aaallllll worth it. We have so beautiful memories of that day to cherish all our lives.