Bastille Day is a purely English term. The French call their national holiday The Fourteenth of July, just like we call ours The Fourth of July. Madame Le Chef and I have friends who spend part of every year in the small French town of Montsoreau where they own a house. The town is on the left bank of the Loire and has a particularly charming way of celebrating the national holiday.
They hold their celebration on the night of the thirteenth of July so people can go to the much larger fireworks shows in the nearby cities on the fourteen.
When it's almost dusk the band marches up the street to the town hall, playing. (Please click.)
They stop there while the mayor and some officials pass out Chinese lanterns with lighted candles to the little kids. This would never happen in the US. Think of the law suits.
Then when all the kids have lanterns and it's almost dark, the crowd of a few hundred follows the band down to the river and walks along it to the village square where there will be music later.
The fireworks are shot off from a barge in the middle of the Loire.
The next morning in the neighboring town of Fontevraud-l'Abbaye the more traditional civic ceremonies are celebrated with an Army honor guard.
Also members of the police, the fire department and the same band that played the night before in Montsoreau.
And of course, the mayor gives a short speech. (She's the small figure in front of the bush.)