Bastille Day: The Eiffel Tower does it better

A photo posted by Edna (@expatedna) on

It’s been well documented how much I love Bastille Day. So I always find it surprising when people say they’re going to celebrate the holiday at Not-the-Eiffel-Tower.

(PS, no one really calls it Bastille Day. It’s better known as la fête nationale or le quatorze juillet; get it straight now!)

I’ve seen the fireworks up close and from afar, and believe me, you can’t do better than sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower. The atmosphere, the performances, and most importantly of all, the music — if you want to celebrate properly, there isn’t any other place to be.

Bastille Day 2015, Paris by Expat Edna

The views can’t be beat, for one.

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The thing about Bastille Day is this though: if you want to see the fireworks at night, you have to start camping out early. Like, wake up and immediately head out, early. (And from personal experience, if you’re spending the previous night at the Firemen’s Ball, then you’ll be waking up pretty late in the morning.)

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This year my fabulous photographer friend Stacy organized a large picnic smack dab in the center of the Champ de Mars. She and her husband Jason arrived at noon — a full 11 hours early! — to stake and claim our spot, and we all staggered in over the next few hours.

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It was Stacy who advised us in advance that umbrellas are essential. Otherwise, you’ll be burnt to a crisp after 6+ hours sitting in the relentless, shade-less heat of the afternoon sun.

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Little French flags aren’t necessary, but make everything look cuter. Same with anything blue, white, and red in general. (Just embrace that you are that cheesy American today. EMBRACE IT.)

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Throughout the afternoon, you’ll hear a full warm-up of the evening’s performance: every opera singer, every symphonic orchestra piece. If you’re a music nerd, it’s heaven. Our group was full of former orch dorks and band geeks and we were totally air-drumming to the tympanis in Carmina Burana.

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(And you can totally Shazaam the symphonies you may have forgotten the names of.)

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At dusk, the real magic begins.

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The sun goes down, the lights go up. The sparkling on the Eiffel Tower begins.

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Then there’s the real performance; the one that gets streamed live to television. The symphonic orchestra in their tuxes; the opera singers in their finest gowns.

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The Eiffel Tower reflects the tricolor and the crowd goes nuts. It’s nearly 11 pm and the show is finally about to begin.

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(The Italian flag makes an appearance too. Or maybe Mexican. Why not.)

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A note on this year’s theme: “Paris Accueille Le Monde”, or Paris Welcomes the World. Only three weeks before, Paris officially announced its bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, and that was reflected both in the videos shown pre-show (see the screens above?) and the theme of the evening’s fireworks.

(PS, Paris 2024? Two of my favorite things combined into one?? Be still my Olympics-devoted heart.)

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The first fireworks shot off the Eiffel Tower proclaimed:

2015

2024

BIEN

VENUE

A

PARIS

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And then the show began.

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The show paid tribute to countries from each continent of the globe, with matching colors and music for each ‘set’.

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Who doesn’t love seeing firework hearts around the Eiffel Tower?

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So why do I always tell people the best show on the 14th of July is at the Eiffel Tower? It’s not just for the dead-on view, but for the soundtrack that goes with it.

Sure, you can see the fireworks from all over town, but you need the accompanying music. It absolutely completes the show.

Otherwise you’re just watching a silent movie, missing the best parts.

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(These purple ones may be my favorite of the whole lot. Second only to the photo at the top of this post — which was taken on my phone!)

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After 45 minutes, the spectacle concluded with an otherworldly tribute, set to the soundtrack of ET. Paris not only welcoming the world, but the universe.

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And then just like that, another Bastille Day was over.

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See you next year?

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Comments

  1. Mark Resnicoff says:

    By far the best group of photos I’ve ever seen from the Eiffel Tower on “la fête nationale”. I don’t know if I would have the patience to hang out that long before the show. And most importantly, what do you do for a bathroom break? ;)

    • Thanks Mark! I thought it would be a long time to wait (even brought my computer to do some work!) but it turns out with the right company, those hours just fly by! As for bathrooms, there are portapotties nearby and with a large group you don’t have to worry about anyone taking your spot.

  2. That looks like a blast! (No pun intended there…) I would love to be able to attend this celebration one day. Actually I’d be really happy if I could just to go Paris! I swear I’ll get there one of these days ;)

  3. Beautiful photos!! (I decided not to take a single photo that day, because I knew your shots would be better hihi!) You really captured the celebratory nature of this fun day. And OMG can you imagine if you covered the Olympics in PARIS??

  4. Love these photos, Edna! Bastille Day at the Eiffel Tower does look absolutely magical.

  5. Definitely want to get here at some point for this! I just love fireworks! and you had a perfect view (great snaps that day btw ;) )

    Especially love the GIFS !!

    Great photos

    • Thanks Amy! Haha yes I had fun snapping away that day, was so happy to be able to share the atmosphere and music and not just photos!

  6. Holy Jesus, that is insane!!!! I’ve seen fireworks of course, but not like that!

  7. WOW. Truly just wow. I love that you never seem to miss Bastille Day and you always get the best pictures. That is incredible. And I totally agree – why would you go anywhere but the Eiffel Tower to celebrate? Amazing.

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  2. […] best fireworks show of the summer: La Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) at the Eiffel Tower. Absolutely worth […]