Just ten days after the 4th of July fireworks have faded, you can still celebrate independence – just under a different red, white, and blue flag. Bastille Day, also known as French National Day, is the annual commemoration of the 1789 storming of the Bastille prison in Paris, the public’s uprising against the monarchy and the beginning of the French Revolution. If you can’t make it to Paris to celebrate, here are just a few places around the U.S. hosting fêtes where you can join in the celebration:
Boston’s French cultural center annually holds a popular event where you can party like it’s 1789 and dance in the streets like a revolutionary. Marlborough Street will host this party, with francophone DJs and musicians entertaining the crowds while you sample food, beer and, of course, wine from the best local French restaurants.
Back in 1855, when Dallas was only 14, it took in hundreds of French settlers whose nearby settlement had failed. Today, they trade in their cowboy hats for berets and celebrate this joining of cultures. Visit the Bishop Arts District for your fill of wines, crepes, confit, parfaits, and baguettes all while enjoying performers including accordionists, DJs and can-can dancers.
You might be surprised to find that Milwaukee draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the four-day Bastille Days event, likely big enough to rival some in France! French and Cajun cuisine abounds along with roaming street entertainment like clowns, minstrels and mimes. The stars of the event are the Mardis Gras parades and the light shows on the 43-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower.
New Orleans, LA
Always proud of its French heritage, New Orleans is always a great place to celebrate la libération française. This year, visit The Spanish Plaza on Saturday the 12th for French foods, music, and storytelling for kids. Don’t forget to dress up your pooch for the French Dog Contest! Meanwhile, the historically French Faubourg St. John neighborhood hosts a block party that the local stores and businesses participate in. This fest features live music, local art, food and the French game pétanque, which is similar to bocce or lawn bowling.
New York, NY
New York’s Bastille Day includes dancers, bands, raffles, free French workshops, pastries and a fun Twitter photo hunt challenge. Of course, there will be plenty of wines, cheeses, cocktails and more to taste. There’s no need to limit your dabbling in French culture to one day – NYC French Restaurant Week features restaurants all through the city and runs July 7-14 to coincide with Bastille Day. For a celebration a bit more authentic, check out the street fair and pétanque tournament on Smith Street in Brooklyn, a neighborhood that many French expats call home.