Bastille Day, known in France as “la Fête Nationale”, takes place on 14 July every year. It’s far from a mere bank holiday then – this date is considered the ultimate celebration of French culture and heritage. This special day marks the Storming of the Bastille, a political event that shaped the France we know today. Throughout the country, you’ll hear impassioned cries of “Vive la France! Vive la République!” as people gather in the streets for huge parties. But how did Bastille Day come to be?
Toward the end of the 18th Century, the French monarchy was in crisis. The country was on the brink of bankruptcy due to costly involvement in the American Revolution, yet King Louis XVI and his coiffed queen Marie Antoinette continued to spend lavishly while ordinary people starved. On 14 July 1789, Parisian rebels stormed the Bastille, a royal prison that had come to signify the cruelty of the sovereignty. This event marked the beginning of the French Revolution, a decade of political turmoil in which the king was overthrown by the new radical state and sent to the guillotine. Eventually of course, the absolute monarchy was replaced by a constitutional government.
Here we give you some brilliant historical ways to mark the most important day in France’s calendar.