Entrenched in the identity of any French national is the motto: ‘Liberté, egalité, fraternité’ (liberty, equality, fraternity). Undeniably uplifting, the powerful motto stems from France’s rebellious history that is remembered each year on the 14th July: Bastille Day.
The national day marks the historic beginning of French republican democracy, celebrating the anniversary of two significant events some 230 years ago: the Storming of the Bastille on 14th July in 1789, a crucial turning point in the French Revolution, and the Fête de la Fédération, which celebrated the unity of the French people the following year.
Today, Bastille Day – or “The National Holiday” as most locals refer to it – is characterised by joyous celebrations wherever you turn. Convivial groups of family and friends gather in streets, town squares and cafés, set to the backdrop of music, public speeches and fantastic fireworks. In Paris, the country’s heart, you will witness the oldest and largest military parade on the Champs-Élysées (dating back to Bastille Day 1880) as well as fireworks that light up the capital from the Eiffel Tower and free admission to the Louvre.
Each French town and global French community commemorates Bastille Day with fashion and flair, exuding levels of excitement and pride that you cannot help but get swept up in. People wear blue, white and red (“tricolore” clothes or make-up) and sing the French anthem (the Marseillaise), usually after enjoying one or two glasses of Champagne.
Here in Cap d’Antibes, the residents of Antibes celebrate this national holiday with as much vigour as the rest of the country. Look out for musical performances, large communal feasts, parades and dancing in the streets on the 14th July, as well as a magnificent fireworks display that takes place over the bay of Juan-les-Pins at 10.30pm.
This special date is also the complimentary evening at the Jazz à Juan festival in the Gould pine grove, where festival-goers are treated to world-class music – as the town’s guests. This year’s artists on Bastille Day include Omri Mor, Ekram and Electro Deluxe from 8:30pm. As expected numbers are limited; you can request your invitation online (www.jazzajuan.com) before 24th June.
During the day on 14th July, there is even a traditional boules carrées (cuboid bowls) competition from 10am at Place du Safranier, Antibes. The competition is open to all, participants just pay a small fee on the day (www.lacommunelibredusafranier.fr). For the enthusiastic, on the evening before – Saturday 13th July – there is also a fireworks display at 10pm in the Salis bay, Antibes, as well as a public dance from 9pm at the Place Nationale and Place du Safranier.
From soaking up the party atmosphere and joining a street party or observing the happy crowds from your Parc du Cap balcony with a flute of bubbly in hand, the French Riviera offers plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the French traditions this Bastille Day. Before you know it, you’ll be joyously exclaiming “Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!” along with the locals.