French National Day

The day of a revolution in Paris has become the French National Day. The 14th of July is today associated with the solemnity of the military processions and the people-friendly balls and fireworks.
La Bastille

The storming of the Bastille

In the first months of the French revolution, great agitation reigned in Paris. In spring 1789, the State General refused to be dissolved and was transformed into National Parliament. On July 11th, King Louis XVI dismissed Jacques Necker, the popular Minister of Finance. On the morning of July 14, the people of Paris took weapons and moved towards the old prison and royal fortress symbol of the absolute power of the Monarchy, the Bastille. After the bloody battle, 98 attackers were killed, along with the governor and seven other defenders.

The storming of the Bastille was the first victory by the people of Paris against a symbol of old regime. The building was completely demolished in the months which followed.

Le Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen - the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen - was proclaimed on the 24th June 1793 as the fundamental doctrine of the French Revolution, giving universal rights to all.

The National Festival - La Fête de la Fédération

The "Festival of the Federation", July 14, 1790, celebrated their freedom on the first anniversary of the insurrection with much pomp, ceremony, feasting and fireworks. The day was declared a National Holiday in 1880.

Celebrating July 14 in France today

July 14, the French National Day is always a day of great celebration. In Paris, the traditional military procession on the Champs-Elysées is meticulously prepared. Balls are held, street lighting erected and fireworks let off throughout the country.

Various Presidents of the 5th Republic made changes to the celebrations of the day. President Giscard d'Estaing changed the route of the military parades to follow that of the original revolutionaries from the Place de la Bastille to the Place de la République.

To mark the bicentenary of the French revolution in 1989 a night-time parade called La Marseillaise was organised with many foreign Heads of State invited to attend the spectacle organised by Jean-Paul Goude.

In 1994, German soldiers took part in the procession on the Champs-Elysées as a sign of reconciliation between France and Germany.

Nowadays many people and soldiers from throughout France are invited to a reception held in the park of the Elysée Palace after the processions.


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