So why do we call it Bastille Day?

It’s known as Bastille Day in English because the day celebrates the storming in 1789 of the Bastille, a prison King Louis XVI used to detain his opponents. The Storming of the Bastille was a turning point in the French Revolution, eventually leading to the end of the monarchy.

How do they celebrate in France?

On 14 July, there’s always a military parade in the morning starting at the Arc de Triomphe and ending at Place de la Concorde. In the evening, there’s a free concert on the Champ de Mars and fireworks are set off from the Eiffel Tower.

There’s also a tradition in Paris where fire stations stay open at night on 13 and 14 July to welcome visitors to celebrate. It’s called the Bastille Day Firemen’s Balls.

There are more fireworks, concerts and events all over France.

French people take advantage of the day off by meeting up with their friends and family for a picnic or a BBQ. Think delicious, but simple food, like cheese, sandwiches, charcuterie, pastries, strawberries and ratatouille (and Champagne, of course!). They’ll often play pétanque, a type of boules, in backyards and parks.

Learn how to make Coq au Vin


6-8 lb (2.7-3.6 kg) chicken, cut into 8 pieces

3 bay leaves

½ tsp (1.4 g) peppercorns

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 T (29 g) unsalted butter

2 C (500 ml) Bordeaux or Burgundy wine

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 med carrots, chopped

1 C (59 g) button mushrooms

1 med white onion, chopped

1 C (100 g) pearl onions, peeled

1 med leek, sliced

¼ C (31 g) flour

4 sprigs fresh thyme

4 sprigs fresh rosemary


2 T (2.5 g) flat leaf parsley, chopped


  1. Place chicken in a large bowl. Add bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic and wine. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. 
  2. The next day, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). 
  3. Remove chicken and reserve marinade; pat chicken dry; season with salt and pepper. 
  4. In an oven-proof pot over medium-high heat, melt butter and brown chicken; remove and set aside.
  5.  Add carrots, mushrooms, onion, pearl onions and leek to same pot; cook until golden, stirring often. 
  6. Sprinkle flour over vegetables; return chicken to pot and add reserved marinade, stirring to combine. 
  7. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs; cover and bake 1 hour. 
  8. Discard herb sprigs and serve, garnished with parsley.

Serving Suggestion

Traditionally served over buttered egg noodles or roasted new potatoes, coq au vin also goes well with polenta or on its own with a crusty loaf of sourdough bread.

Prep time: 12 minutes.Marinate time: 24 hours.Cook time: 1 hour.Makes 4 servings.