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What to do on Bastille Day?

I will be in Paris for Bastille Day, and don't know what to expect. Will everything shut down? Parties in the streets? I've read about the parade and evening fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, but don't know what other options might be.

I have a second question, too! We are planning to visit Dinan, Mont St. Michel, and Bayeux. This will require one or two nights stay away from Paris. Can anyone suggest which of these towns is the best to stay? Trying to figure out a reasonable Itinerary... Thanks!

Posted by
8358 posts

I think we just walked around, went in Notre Dame, visited the Arche de' Triumph (sorry, do not spell French very well) and strolled the streets til it was time to find a place to sit to watch the fireworks and the whole show that is put on. Very fun!

We stayed in the beautiful B&B in Bayeux and loved it. Very reasonable too with a luscious breafast too.

Did the 2 day American Experience with Battlebus tours. Fantastic, money well spent, and want to go back and do their other tours. Really drives home the sacrifices made in 1944. Extremely moving.

Posted by
449 posts

I was in Paris on Bastille Day, 1998. France had just won the World Cup two days before so the entire nation was in a euphoric frenzy. I wanted to see the Bastille Day parade so I went to the Champs Elysee really early to get a good spot. Unfortunately I only saw half the parade. I positioned myself near the Arc de Triomphe where lots of tanks and other armored vehicles were lined up. I thought the military personnel would march past this spot to be followed by the tanks, jeeps.... This is not the case: the marchers line up towards the end of the parade route (ie around the presidential palace) and head down to the Place de la Concorde. I missed the best part of the parade. Even the French citizens around me were surprised that they did not see soldiers, marines, sailors, military academy cadets, firemen.... So if you are interested in seeing the parade do not believe the guide books that say it goes from Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde; only part of it does.

You might want to attend one of the many balls held in fire stations throughout the city. These are held on the evening of the 13th, and from what I have heard are great fun.

The fireworks show at the Eiffel tower is great and worth the wait. You can see it from many parts of the city; I chose to see it from the Trocadero area and then had to walk back to my hotel in the Latin Quarter. It was a enjoyable walk of a few miles.

I don't recall if many restaurants were closed that day but it was the only day where I had a meal at McDonalds and purchased food from street vendors. July 14th was so exciting that it was more of a eat-and-run day rather than a day to have a fine meal.

Have fun.

Posted by
37 posts

Between Dinan, Mont St Michel and Bayeux, we stayed in both Dinan and Bayeux. I think of Mont St Michel as more of a day trip, not a place to stay overnight. We drove to Dinan from the Loire Valley, spent the day there and stayed overnight, then drove to Mont St Michel first thing in the morning (I think it opens at 9), spent a few hours there, then drove to Bayeux. You could probably do something similar by train, although stopping at Mont St Michel in the middle of your train trip might not work. Some of the hotels in Bayeux offer day trips to Mont St Michel, I'm not sure about Dinan.