July 14 marks French National Day (called Bastille Day in the U.S.), which commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789. Known simply as “le quatorze juillet” in French, this important and symbolic holiday is celebrated all over France with parades, festivals and official ceremonies. Since the occasion is gaining popularity here in the U.S. (and honored with a number of Bastille Day parties), we put together cheat sheet for everything you need to know about Bastille Day.
The political system in France prior to the French Revolution—essentially, the French monarchy. The king held all of the power, and rights and status flowed down into three orders: clergy, nobility and the Third Estate.
A medieval fortress, the Bastille used to hold state and political prisoners and served as a symbol of the royal authority.
Bastille Day Military Parade
The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe, the procession has been held on the Champs-Élysées every July 14 morning since 1880 (with the exception of World War II occupation).
The Revolution spanned 1787 to 1799, with the storming of the Bastille serving as a flashpoint. The critical result of the war was the collapse of the absolute monarchy.
La retraite aux flambeaux
The reenactment of the storming of the Bastille, which features people carrying torch flames. This is typically celebrated the night before, on July 13.
During the start of the French Revolution, this was the name of the revolutionary assembly established by members of the Third Estate.
The majority of the French population who didn’t fall into the categories of nobility or clergy. They were generally the poor and working class, responsible for much of France’s taxes, and had little rights of their own prior to the French Revolution.
Fireworks are set off from this spot in Paris on the annual Bastille Day celebration.