Bastille Day, Paris – Free things to see and do

Paris’s summer national holiday commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789. This year, Bastille Day, is on Thursday July 14th 2016. Visitors will experience the Champs-Elysées military parade, a fireman’s ball and spectacular firework display at the Champ de Mars.

Check out our list of free things to do below – and budget friendly accommodation in Paris city centre.

When? Thursday July 14 2016
What? Street parties, parades and fireworks to celebrate the most important date of the French Revolution.
Where? Place de la Bastille, the Champs Elysées, Champ de Mars

Bal des Pompiers (Fireman’s Ball) 

Bal des Pompiers
Image by Mademoiselle Blush et Mister Sac à Main

Putting the glamour into Bastille Day, the Bal des Pompiers (Fireman’s Ball) is where everyone likes to have a good time. Let your hair down and put your lipstick on the 13th July and 14th July as Parisians will be getting ready to dance!

Most of the balls are absolutely free. Fire stations often leave a traditional barrel for anyone feeling generous enough to make a donation.

Visit the Louvre Museum for free

Image by Elwin van Eede (Flickr/Creative Commons)

If you’re looking for something free to do on Bastille Day, bear in mind that nearly all of Paris’ museums stay open on July 14th. Even better, the Louvre Museum will be FREE, making it the best time to experience its world class art collections.

Free performance at the Opéra de Paris house

Opéra de Paris
Image by Loïc Lagarde (Flickr/Creative Commons)

There will be a FREE matinee performance at the Palais Garnier opera house on Bastille Day. Book ahead and watch “The Anatomy of Sensation”, a contemporary dance by Wayne McGregor, without parting with a cent.

Opéra National de Paris – Opéra Bastille – 12th
Thursday, July 14 2016
Free admission

Watch the Military Parade on the Champs-Élysées 

Bastille Military Parade
Image by Sharat Ganapati (Flickr/Creative Commons)

One of the highlights of the French national day is the Presidential military parade. It marches along the Champs Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. The Bastille Day parade is free and open to all. If you want to find the best places to see the event, then it pays to camp out the night before.

Watch the Bastille Day Fireworks 

Bastille Day Fireworks
Image by Loïc Lagarde (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Launched from Eiffel Tower, the July 14th fireworks are one the highlights of the Bastille Day. You can view them from all over the city, with Champs de Mars and Trocadéro popular with locals. The fireworks will start at around 11pm and lasts 35 minutes.

*Header image by Yann Caradec (Flickr/Creative Commons)