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  • Writer's pictureGerardo Bandera

What to do in New York for Bastille Day

Blue, white, and red fireworks light up the skies over the Champs Élysées every year on 14 July to celebrate Bastille day, also known as the Fête Nationale or le 14 Juillet. However you don’t have to be in Paris to celebrate this holiday! The following festivities in New York City will take you on a trip through French history and culture.

What is Bastille Day?

Bastille Day commemorates 14 July, 1789, the day when the citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille - a fortress that was also used as a prison - where they seized the government’s supply of gunpowder and freed seven prisoners.

The storming of the Bastille symbolizes the beginning of the French Revolution, in which French citizens - suffering from poverty and famine - revolted against the monarchy of Louis XVI, which was amassing wealth and power, and established a new République with the values that make up French society today - Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité (Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood).

Today, the Fête Nationale is an opportunity to celebrate these democratic values for all, as well as the French culture at large.

FIAF Bastille Day Celebration

On Sunday, July 16, The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) will be holding a Bastille Day celebration, closing down Madison Avenue between 59th and 63rd streets and hosting musical performances, family activities, prize drawings and inviting French restaurants and artisans to set up over 50 booths to give you a taste of French culture.

Don’t miss out on the live performances by Broadway’s Moulin Rouge company and Moroccan-French singer Malika Zarra, or the French Market, which will have stands by Ladurée, La Maison du Chocolat, Pain d’Avignon and many more.

Sign up for a French Course with Learn French Brooklyn!

Do you wish you could order a pain au chocolat in French? Want to watch Call My Agent without subtitles? Would you like to read Les Misérables in the original?

Dive back into the French language this summer with one of our eight-week courses of any level - from absolute beginner to advanced. Conveniently located at The Yard in Greenpoint, our small-sized classes provide you with training in grammar and vocabulary while prioritizing conversational modern French.

We also offer private lessons, in which you’ll get a customized course tailored to your French language needs, and classes for children so the whole family can go en vacances en France.

For more information, feel free to contact us at À bientôt!

Try a French Meal with French Restaurant Week


After two years of pause due to the pandemic, French Restaurant Week is back, featuring four French restaurants that will have prix fixe menus for lunch and/or dinner, giving you the opportunity to try an array of French dishes.

These restaurants will be offering special menus:

  • La Sirène SoHo, 558 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013

  • La Sirène Upper West Side, 416 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

  • Bar Tabac, 128 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

  • Excuse my French, 196 Orchard Street, New York

Listen to French music in Central Park

Head over to SummerStage in Central Park, by the Rumsey Playfield, to listen to a variety of performances by French-speaking musicians. The event is co-sponsored by the Consulat Général de France and CAFUSA, the Committee on French Associations, and will host five musicians:

  • Joachim Garraud and Marie Berson: Come danser with French DJ and Producer Joachim Garraud, whose deep house set will include a collaboration with flutist Marie Berson.

  • Passi: a French-Congolese rapper who collaborated to create the anthem for the African Nations Cup tournament.

  • Bénabar: Singer-songwriter Bénabar sings about contemporary French life through vivid descriptions in folk-jazz arrangements,

  • Adèle Castillon: the singer and actress, Adèle Castillon was part of the duo Videoclub. Now, the solo star will bring her sultry voice to the Central Park stage to give us a taste of modern French pop.

Dive into French literature at Albertine

Don’t know where to start with the vast history of French literature? Albertine is the only bookstore in New York dedicated to promoting French literature and has a large collection of books in French and English. From Molière to Proust, from Rimbaud to the Nobel-laureate Annie Ernaux, you’ll be sure to find a French summer companion here for your long rides in the métro.

By Gerardo Bandera

Gerardo is a writer and editor with a passion for literature and languages. He has lived in Paris—his favorite smelly city—where he studied economics and literature at La Sorbonne. When he's not helping students understand tricky concepts, he's either reading Proust in the park, writing about environmental justice, or learning another language.


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