Travel Picks: Top 10 Bastille Day celebrations

Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:03am EDT
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San Francisco (Reuters) - Sing a rousing rendition of the Marseillaise, twirl a sparkler or head out to see the parades and fireworks for France's national day of celebration on Saturday. Francophiles around the world can find a place to join in the revelry with online travel adviser's ( list of the top 10 destinations to celebrate Bastille Day. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Paris

Welcome to the center of the universe for Bastille Day celebrations. Expect parties, special programming and general merry-making in cafes, parks, clubs and discos all over the city. Even the fire houses open their doors for balls where they serve food, drink and live music to a largely local crowd in exchange for small donations. On the morning of July 14, the French President presides over the military parade down the Champs Elysees that draws huge crowds and an aircraft flyover. Get there a few hours early if you want a spot close to the action, or hit Restaurant Georges on the rooftop of the Centre Pompidou, Montmarte or Belleville for the view. Later on, catch the fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower.

2. London, UK

Just a few weeks before playing host to the Olympics, London will throw a Bastille Day celebration second only to the one in Paris, and while festivities take place all over the city, the main event is the Garden Party at Battersea Park, complete with live Caberet performances, face-painting and games for the whole family. Burough Market will celebrate with an abundance of French wine, Absinthe and Champagne tastings and French food samplings. The Bankside will also be filled with street entertainment, performance art, theatrical performances, outdoor eating, drinking, dancing and singing and an exciting fireworks finale.

3. New Orleans, Louisiana

With its French Creole roots, New Orleans may be the best place in the United States to celebrate Bastille Day. This eclectic city is known for its culture, delicious food and great jazz, but most of all the Big Easy knows how to throw a great party and Bastille Day is no exception. The week-long celebration kicks-off with a traditional French Mass at St. Luis Cathedral followed by fireworks on the river, poetry readings, live music and French food. For Bastille Day, locals pay homage to their French heritage with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Joan of Arc Statue on Decatur Street, a French poodle contest in Dutch alley, block parties and a French market. The weekend closes with the traditional Waiters and Bartenders Race and cooking demonstrations.

4. Liege, Belgium

For a less crowded Bastille Day option, visitors should consider Liège. Liège is the biggest and the most important metropolis of Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. But even with its French roots, Liege has only celebrated Bastille Day since WWI when the city was recognized by France's Legion d'Honneur for its heroic efforts by resisting the Germans in the Battle of Liege. Today, Liege has one of the largest French Bastille Day celebrations (it's even bigger than its own Belgian National Day celebration) in the world. Travelers can enjoy an array of festivities including military parades, concerts and a firework show outside the Place Des Congres (Congress Hall). Festivities continue well into the night with live DJs and dancing.   Continued...