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Riviera Pebbles Blog: Celebrating Bastille Day

Posted on 9th Jul 2014 in Nice News


Fireworks on the Promenade, image courtesy of J. Kelagopian

You’ve landed on the French Riviera. Come July, it seems like life along this golden strip of coastline is one big party. Mornings kick off with market jaunts, lunches are spent over a lazy bottle of rosé. And who can resist a refreshing dip in the sea at sundown?

But on July 14, that holiday sensation feels like it has been cranked up a notch. You may notice that many local offices are closed, as residents and tourists alike stroll the seafront in full force. That’s because it’s France’s National Day, also known as Bastille Day. Much like the United States’ Fourth of July, Bastille Day celebrates the day that France started down the road to become a republic governed by the people – rather than an all-too-corrupt kingdom.

It all began in 1789. King Louis XVI was ruling France, along with his infamous bride, Marie “let-them-eat-cake” Antoinette. The country was undergoing a major economic crisis, exacerbated by a taxation system that ensured the higher the income, the lower the percentage of tax owed to the government.

The writing was on the wall. Unrest was rife, ranging from protests to outright riots. On July 14, 1789, a crowd stormed Paris’ Bastille prison demanding guns and ammunition. Violence escalated, officially kick-starting the French Revolution.

Exactly 225 years later and the July 14 explosions are of a decidedly more inclusive sort. All along the Riviera, this day is celebrated with some serious waterfront partying.

In Nice, the promenade des Anglais is closed to traffic for the entire evening. Seven different live stages are set up here for the popular Prom’ Party, a medley of music from around the globe, plus plenty of dancing and general revelry. Or pack a picnic dinner, a bottle or two of Côtes de Provence and head to the beach. From here you’ll have a front-row seat for the magnificent 10pm firework display.


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