Paris celebrates France’s national holiday with parades, picnics, fireworks and more. With Bastille Day, July 14, falling on a Saturday this year, you need not take time off from work to take part.

Parisians know how to fete the day. One traditional event actually kicks off the night before. On both Friday and Saturday nights, dozens of fire departments throughout the city host balls open to the public. There’s no set admission fee, but a barrel is set out to collect donations. Proceeds go toward improving working conditions of fire department personnel.

On Saturday, a giant military parade sets off down the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. If this year’s program is similar to previous years, troops will muster at 9 a.m., followed by much pomp and ceremony, with distinguished guests in attendance.

Also on Saturday, the Château de Versailles is the site of a giant picnic on the banks of the Grand Canal by the Bassin du Fer-à-Cheval. The dress code is white, and admission is free. A piquenique can consist of treats brought from home or picked up on the spot from local producers. Brass bands and traditional music lend an air of festivity to the outing.

Finally it’s off to the Champs de Mars for fireworks, which launch from the Bassins du Trocadéro starting at 10:45 p.m. and last about half an hour. The fireworks are set to music; this year’s theme gives a nod to the music of the 1970s and ’80s. See the full program on the official website of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau at

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