Six Places to Celebrate Bastille Day in the United States

Vive la France! Now that we’ve gotten our own country’s birthday out of the way, it’s time to keep the party going with France’s Bastille Day on July 14. But if you can’t make it to France this month, not to worry – there are plenty of cities all over the U.S. that celebrate Bastille Day, and chances are there’s one near you!

In fact, they’re not only near you; they’re more fun and last longer, too. That’s because in France, it’s a one-day affair – it’s always on July 14th and once it’s done, it’s done. Here in the States, it’s more of an excuse to party all weekend long, no matter what day the 14th falls on each year. For Bastille Day 2010, most major events are happening over the weekend of July 9-11, with only French restaurants and some bars observing the actual day with special deals.

So that means you are going to be getting your French on early on some years, and later on others. Make sure to check with the event organizers to make sure you’re not too early or too late. But without further adieu (French joke, sorry), these are the most fun Bastille Day events all over the nation!

Philadelphia – Bastille Day Festival and the Fairmount French Fling Weekend

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The Eastern State Penitentiary is no longer a functioning prison, but it makes a great setting for ridiculously fun Bastille Day events. The four-day festival starts with a bar crawl on Thursday; on Friday there are open-air Pepe-le-Peu cartoons and films shown on the lawn; and Saturday has a Tricycle Tour de France, a dress-up-your-pet parade and a Tastykake-and-super-soaker recreation of the storming of the Bastille, followed by after-parties. If you’re still standing, there’s a French Champagne Brunch sponsored by three area restaurants on Sunday. Say what you want about Philly, but they know how to party.

New York – Bastille Day on East 60th Street

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New York’s Bastille Day block party, held on a Sunday, is a little less rowdy but a lot of fun for the whole family. You can play pétanque, the famous French lawn game, attend wine, beer and cheese tastings at the French Institute Alliance Française (for under $15!), and lots of other free themed events like mime performances, waiter races, and a Tour de France on stationary bikes. Raffles for prizes for trips to France, french dinners, French movie DVDs and French language classes will also be held, so if you need a little more joie de vivre, you might even be able to win it.

Seattle - Bastille Day Festival

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This one is on Sunday as well, and main events are held at the Fisher Pavillion of the Seattle Center, where the Space Needle is located. Their festival is well-curated, with everything from public screenings of hometown travel guruRick Steves’ France shows in the Pavilion to live music and cooking demonstrations on the Fisher Lawn and $5 wine tastings on the Fisher Roof. There’s even a Citroën car show and a photo competition. French ham and butter baguette sandwiches will feed the hungry crowds, as will French cheeses, sausages and frites.

East Town Milwaukee - Bastille Days

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Milwaukee – who knew? And you read that right, it’s Days, as in plural, as in Thursday through Sunday. And they’ve got everything French, all the time, in several locations. There is a full line-up of bands, French language lessons, belly dancing, tastings, mini French lessons, a dog parade, dozens of food and drink vendors selling French specialties… and since it’s Milwaukee, a beer tent. Just look for the to-scale Eiffel Tower, and you’ll know you’re in the right place! Come early on Friday (from 4pm – 6pm) for happy hour and enjoy $3 glasses of beer or wine.

New Orleans – Bastille Day Block Party

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New Orleans is bursting with French culture, from the French-influences found in the cuisine to the French-language street signs found in the Quarter (They don’t call it the French Quarter for nothing!). The city hosts a big fat Bastille Day Party, starting on Saturday on Ponce de Leon Street with food vendors and a French dance band and going right on through to Sunday at the French Market where you’ll find a waiters’ race and Marie Antoinette herself serving cake to the masses. Celebrate France’s birthday with a Cajun twist!

St. Louis – Soulard Bastille Days

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The historic Soulard area was first settled by the French and today is a wonderful, diverse section of St. Louis; their Bastille Day festival is the weekend after July 14 this year, and there will be blood – a mock beheading of a king and queen is the highlight of the weekend, on Friday night (July 16)! Then on Saturday there is a huge daylong festival in Soulard Market Park, and the festivities wrap up on Sunday with a Tour de Soulard cycling race. Tres chouette!

Bastille Day isn’t the only summer festival coming up. Check out more summer festival travel deals in August and September.

Photos by: thatpicturetaker, sebastien.b, Chris Blakeley, davereid2, Infrogmation, dietrich

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Older comments on Six Places to Celebrate Bastille Day in the United States

Scritch
09 July 2010

The block party in New Orleans is actually sponsored by the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association as opposed to being an official city event. If you attend, be sure to walk down to the bayou or even stop by the New Orleans Museum of Art. If you wander far enough down the bayou, stop in at Parkway Tavern and have one of their delicious roast beef po-boys. Tell them to throw some gravy onto your cheese fries and it’ll be the closest thing to poutine you’re likely to get in Louisiana.

If you’re interested in having Antoinette serve you cake in New Orleans, that event actually takes place on Wednesday morning, the 14th (official Bastille Day!) There’s only a limited supply, so you may have to storm the Market Cafe located near the Joan of Arc statue if you want a piece.

While it’s not Bastille Day related, if you happen to be in town anyway this weekend, there’s also the New Orleans “Running of the Bulls”, featuring our Big Easy Rollergirls.

http://www.nolabulls.com/?id=0
http://www.nola.com/drink/index.ssf/2010/07/are_you_ready_for_new_orleans.html

If you have children, the Children’s Museum is having an event Saturday morning as well featuring “French”-inspired arts and crafts. And if you’re feeling nostalgic, be sure to check out the Mister Rogers Neighborhood hands-on exhibit.

http://www.lcm.org/playlearn/index.html#FrenchFest

And if you have the cash to spare ($65), the French Alliance of New Orleans is having a fancy dinner Monday.

http://www.af-neworleans.org/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=31&cntnt01returnid=53

I didn’t realize there were this many Bastille Day celebrations in the states. Nicely done!

Scritch
09 July 2010

One last shout out for if you’re in New Orleans this weekend, also not Bastille Day related but should be fun. The Mother-in-Law Lounge (as seen on David Simon’s “Treme”(tm)) is having a fundraising event this Sunday. If you’d like to experience a piece of local culture, here’s your chance, as the venue may close down soon. Cheers.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=141426909207735&index=1

bastilledaymap
10 July 2010

Scritch and Christine,
Thanks for those great links and descriptions, we’ll add them to our map of Bastille Day Events at http://BastilleDayMap.com Happy Bastille Day!