Bastille Day (la Fête nationale or le 14 juillet) is the French national day. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison which launched the French Revolution on July 14, 1789.
There are normally celebrations on 60th Street and around Lycée Français de New York in the Upper East Side, at Le District French food hall in Battery Park City, in the new Little Paris (NoHo), and around the International Academy in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
Bastille Day 2021 in New York City
Bastille Day is Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Due to the pandemic, Bastille Day on 60th St moves to Central Park SummerStage with a jazz quintet, DJ set and film screening from 6:30 – 10pm (5pm doors). Free and first-come, first-serve. To enter we would get in line at 3 or 4pm.
Bastille Day 2020 in New York City
New York is on PAUSE for COVID-19 so Bastille Day on 60th St goes online from July 11-14, 2020.
Bastille Day 2019 in New York City
Bastille Day is Sunday, July 14, 2019. There are many events surrounding the big day.
French Restaurant Week
July 8 to 21 ~ For two weeks from, selected French restaurants commemorate the French Revolution of 1789 with prix-fixe menus priced at $17.89, $25, $42 and $178.90.
- A.O.C. East
- Bistro Leo
- Boucherie Union Square
- Brasserie 8 1⁄2
- Café Centro
- Deux Amis
- Excuse My French
- Fig & Olive
- Jubilee First
- La Sirene
- La Sirene Upper West Side
- Maison Harlem
- Petite Boucherie
- St Tropez West Village
French American Yacht Club Bastille Day Sail
Saturday, July 13, 2019 ~ The French American Yacht Club hosts a Bastille Day sail from Pier 25 to The Statue of Liberty and back at 2pm.
You need a boat ride to join the sail.
Citroën Bastille Day Rally & Rendezvous
Sunday, July 14, 2019 ~ French car lovers celebrate French car maker Citroën’s 100th anniversary at the General Grant National Memorial on Riverside Drive South at 122nd St in Morningside Heights (near Columbia University) at 9am. FREE
FIAF Bastille Day on 60th Street
Sunday, July 14, 2019 ~ FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française) hosts its annual Bastille Day street fair on 60th Street between Fifth Avenue and Lexington from 12pm – 5pm. FREE
French Consulate Bastille Day Party
Sunday, July 14, 2019 ~ The Consulate General of France hosts its annual Bastille Day dinner party at The Central Park Loeb Boathouse from 6-11pm.
Bastille Day in New York City 2018
Bastille Day NYC 2018 is Sunday, July 15, 2018 from 12 noon – 5 pm.
Bastille Day is Relevant to Us All
Obviously, Bastille Day is important if you are French. But the French Revolution that it celebrates is relevant to all of us.
At least since the Industrial Revolution increased material wealth (roughly 1760-1840) , human history has been a struggle for power and wealth between ruling elites and the people they govern.
Medieval power structures were based on a triad of church, nobility, and common people. You can visualize it as an agricultural estate with the people of the house, their church allies, and the people who work the land.
In Europe, the ideas of the Enlightenment (roughly 1715 – 1789) inspired a change from absolute monarchies and an absolute church, to republics with various forms of representative government and more religious tolerance.
Our American Revolution was one of the first attempts to give common people more control over their own lives and tried to separate religion from matters of state. We are still figuring this out, but the American experiment inspired many who followed.
The French Revolution was a popular uprising that overthrew governing elites and unleashed a variety of social forces. It was messy and violent, but the attempt by common people to govern themselves also inspired others around the world.
The French Revolution led to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte whose dynasty toppled the Spanish monarchy. That led to the independence movements in Latin America.
The struggle for power between ruling elites and individuals is still playing out around the world, but the ideas that inspire it go back to the French and American Revolutions.
When ruling elites govern well, everyone prospers. When governing elites fail, people are forced to band together to survive.
Bastille Day was an important moment in the broad shift from absolute strongman authority to individual responsibility.
What Happened on Bastille Day
A financial crisis caused by too many wars started to destabilize France.
King Louis XIV called a meeting of clergy, nobility, and commoners to try and work things out. The commoners created a National Assembly and invited the clergy and nobility to join.
When a finance minister who was sympathetic to the commoners was dismissed, the people of Paris feared an armed assault. They stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison to get ammunition and gunpowder for the people. The French Revolution was on.
So Bastille Day celebrates the unity of the French people at that important moment in history. It gives us all something to think about.
Together, everything is possible.