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Bastille Day, the biggest day of celebration in France, is fast approaching. If you want to get into the spirit of things, dig out your red, white and blue, pop some champagne and join in the French parties.

Of course, if you were French you wouldn’t even be calling it Bastille Day. In France it’s known as ‘le 14 juillet (the 14th of July) or ‘la fete nationale’ (national holiday). Elsewhere the day has become known as Bastille Day because it was on that day in 1789 that the people of Paris stormed the Bastille, a prison where Louis XVI used to keep his opponents locked away, which marked the turning point of the French Revolution and eventually led to the downfall of the French monarchy.

I studied French at high school and fondly remember days of 14 July as that meant instead of learning conjugations and subjective tenses we got to cook French things in class instead, like crepe suzettes. Who remembers when they were a popular thing at fancy restaurants, the waiter with a mobile table sauntering up next to you to prepare your crepes with great fanfare and flame?

If you want to get into the French swing, there are French themed activities happening all around the country. Melbourne and Sydney have dedicated days of celebrations to the events. Melbourne has the innovatively titled Bastille Day French Festival Melbourne and Sydney’s going all out with four days of celebration.

If you’re at home or in the sticks, you could plan a day of French eating. Maybe  a croissant for breakfast, baguette and cheese for lunch, and a macaron for afternoon tea. Maybe just drink champagne all day.

But if you’re in Canberra, here are some ideas:

How to celebrate in Canberra

  • Join the Alliance Francaise for a French-Australian brunch with smoked salmon and blinis, croissants and, of course, champagne. $50 per head, less discount for members.
  • Head to Buvette restaurant to shout ‘Vive la France’ and enjoy a special Bastille Day Feast, with pastries (of course), charcuteries, cheeses and desserts. And apparently there is a pig carving station! $75 with a champers
  • Take part in Canberra Rep’s annual quiz night and warm ‘les conquilles’ on what’s likely to be a chilly evening in Canberra (because winter!) on Sunday night, 14 July. The quiz is even French-themed for the evening. I loved their touch of French marketing line so much I included them here. 6.30-9.30pm. It’s $5 a person! Bargain.
  • Pop out to Flute Bakery in Fyshwick or L’orange in Manuka and pick up a superb little tart or three.
  • Venture a little out of town to Bungendore for a leisurely French lunch at Le Tres Bon with classic choices including French onion soup, cassoulet and even those crepe suzzettes I mentioned above. You can even join Chef Christophe in singing the French National Anthem! $95 for 4 courses. If you miss the lunch, you can take part in French cooking classes at a later time to cook up your own storm or get the kids involved.

If you can’t find your own French place to celebrate, you could just say ‘Bonjour’ to everyone you come across during the day and wear a beret.


PS This post is not sponsored. I just like French food and celebrations.