How to Watch the Bastille Day Parade in Paris

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Bastille Day, which is celebrated every July 14 to mark the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and the beginning of the French Revolution, is marked by a tremendous parade along the Champs-Elysees. Arrive the night before the parade, mark your spot along the edge of the street and celebrate through the night with plenty of champagne, brie and the company of patriotic French men, women and children.

Things You'll Need

  • Folding chairs
  • Sunscreen
  • Bottled water
  • Bring along plenty of provisions before you watch the Bastille Day Parade along the Champs-Elysees in Paris. July can be hot and sunny in Paris, so you will need plenty of bottled water and sunscreen to make it through approximately 2 hours of the military parade, as well as the day-long migration up the avenue to enjoy the other festivities. Carry folding chairs if you are unsure about standing in the heat for most of the morning.

  • Mark your spot along the Champs-Elysees, and camp out the night before the Bastille Day Parade in Paris. You will be able to enjoy food, drink and live music all through the night during the Bal des Pompiers (Fireman's Ball). Get as close to the Arc de Triomphe as possible, which marks the origin of the parade and the spot where the President of the Republic inspects the troops.

  • Arrive at your spot along the Champs-Elysses at least 2 hours before the start of the military parade at 10:30 a.m. if you choose to sleep comfortably in your hotel room the night before Bastille Day. While it is unlikely that you will find that perfect spot close to the Arc de Triomphe a couple of hours in advance, you should be able to find an agreeable spot further up the Champs-Elysses in which to watch the parade.

  • Watch and enjoy the Bastille Day Parade from your spot along the Champs-Elysees. Note the international flavor of the parade, since France invites its allies to participate in the parade by sending in military personnel to march along with the French troops.

  • Cap the parade off by getting over to the Eiffel Tower after its conclusion and finding an appropriate spot to watch the evening's firework extravaganza, which is one of the most amazing pyrotechnics displays in the world. If you find the base of the tower to be crowded, you can look for a spot further down the adjoining park, the Champ de Mars.

Tips & Warnings

  • Prepare to travel by foot to the Champs-Elysees from your accommodations if you are not camping out along the avenue the night before the parade. Many of the Metro stations in Paris, including those closest to the biggest celebrations, are either closed all day or close early on Bastille Day.

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