Just in case you didn’t get a chance to celebrate independence in your red, white, and blue, France is giving you another opportunity to let freedom ring.
Bastille Day, France’s Independence Day which falls on July 14th, is fast approaching and French ex-pats and New Yorkers alike are getting ready to celebrate the day of revolution and revelry.
Throwing New York’s largest public celebration is the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), a cultural center that has made a point to bring the French joie de vivre to the city.
The holiday marks the historic takeover of Bastille prison, the beheading of many French royalists, and the power of the French revolution of the 1790s.
“I don’t know how it came to be a celebration of happiness and dance,” Jacqueline Chambord, former Artistic Director at FIAF, told the Observer. “When I am in Paris, it is very noisy with all the balls all over the city and people dancing in the streets.”
The FIAF’s festivities began over 15 years ago and other French fanatics have joined in the celebration. While Paris celebrates with fireworks and festivities, New York has infused its own flair into the holiday.
“The way we celebrate it is to try to recreate the same type of fun event but with our own kind of flavor of how to celebrate,” FIAF’s Public Relations Director Natascha Bodemann said. “It’s it own unique thing.”
Most Bastille Day events will be celebrated on Sunday, July 13th, so make sure to check out our top picks.
128 Smith St.
11:30 a.m. – Midnight
Get ready to dust of your Petanque skills. If you’ve never played the French Bocce Ball, register with one of the 64 teams that will play along Smith Street for Bar Tabac’s Bastille Day celebration for a chance to win round trip tickets to Marseille. With over a dozen local food vendors set to line the street around the courts, the restaurant is going full sports bar. Well, European-style. There will even be a 16-foot HD screen set up outside the restaurant to show the final World Cup game.
(The Forgeois Group)
Grands Vins Tour de France
Le Skyroom, 330 W 40th St.
Noon– 5 p.m.
25 French wines? Merci beaucoup. In it’s first Bastille Day appearance, this boozy Tour de France is led by New York’s finest sommeliers, including Hortense Bernard of Millesima USA and Arnaud Tronche of Racines NY. The tasting offers red and white wines, champagne, and rosé served alongside hors d’oeuvres from Le Cirque and French cheeses from Président Specialty Cheeses. Tickets are $115.
(David Silverman/Getty Images)
Grant’s Tomb, W 122nd St & Riverside Dr
This isn’t your average car rally. 25 Citroëns and 25 vintage Velosolex motorbikes will wind their way through Manhattan for the 15th annual Bastille Day Rendez-Vous. Spot the classic wheels along their journey to the 60th Street festival where they’ll park for the rest of the day.
60th Street Festival
East 60th Street, from Fifth to Lexington Avenues
For over 15 years, the French Institute Alliance Française has hosted the largest public celebration of France’s very own Independence Day. The street fair showcases the food, music, and culture of our European friends. The three-block shutdown saw over 40,000 visitors last year and offers fun for the whole family, French or American. Stop by for can-can dances, a free French lesson and a chance to enter for a trip to Saint Barts, New Orleans, and France.
Monaco Boys Choir
60th Street and Park Avenue
Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco are making their way around the East Coast and what better way to show off their angelic voices than a stop at the 60th Street Festival Main Stage. Monaco Cathedral's official children choir performs sacred works, French folk songs, and a number of songs in English. Catch them on Bastille Day before the singing envoy heads off to D.C.
(Princely Palace of Monaco)
La Maille Mustard Truck
July 11- July 13
Founded over 250 years ago, this French Dijon mustard purveyor is making a pit stop in Manhattan to celebrate France and its gift to condiments. Posted at the 60th Street Festival on July 13th, the mustard truck will be passing out free samples of five of its Dijon varieties. The Maille Mustard Mobile food truck will serve up its authentic Dijon alongside palate cleansing cornichons. It doesn’t get much more French than that.
(Courtesy of Maille)