Monday, July 23, 2012

Fireworks & Eiffel Tower, Bastille Day

I've spent much of this year looking forward to Bastille Day and, as it drew closer, the fact that I was leaving Paris just a few days later heightened my anticipation. I was especially looking forward to the fireworks. I love fireworks and I love the Eiffel Tower and I was pretty sure that the combination would be even more incredible.

And it was! In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the only time a fireworks display has ever brought tears to my eyes (maybe partially due to my imminent departure). The fireworks went on for half an hour, with a soundtrack that included a disco version of 'La Vie en Rose'.

This choice of song was due to the theme of the fireworks, which changes every year. The theme for 2012 was disco, and 'La Vie en Rose' was perhaps the closest thing to nationalism in the display... which is to say that it wasn't at all red, white and blue and La Marseillaise. There was the world's largest disco ball, but no French flag.

There were, however, fireworks shaped like hearts and fireworks in almost every colour, with a lot of green, and clouds of dust that seemed to sparkle. The light effects, too, went further than fireworks, with coloured spotlights dancing through the crowd and all the colours bouncing off the disco ball. The Eiffel Tower twinkled its many bulbs, and thousands of cameras going off across the city followed these flashes as if echoes of light. 

It was, of course, lots of fun to photograph, especially as it continued for half an hour. I often feel firework shows are over too quickly, but this one lasted long enough that it seemed the audience entered a transcendent state, fully immersed in the moment, dancing and happy. It didn't have the usual panic of people trying to capture and freeze something that will be over in an instant, largely because it wasn't over in an instant but lasted for half an hour, without compromising the quality of the fireworks -which were all spectacular- to do so.


After this, I'm going to try to be in France every year for Bastille Day. I really wanted to go to the Garden Party at the Hippodrome de Longchamps and was a bit disappointed we arrived too late to get into the Bal des Pompiers, with its line stretched around the block. So, next year! I've also heard that Bastille Day can be even more exciting outside Paris, so... the year after that! And, of course, the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower have a different theme every year...


  1. I have only been there once for quatorze juillet, but celebrate the day each year. I was in Nogent sur Marne the night before and missed the Bal des Pompiers (almost missed the last Metro back to the 5ème! I drug myself out of bed the next morning to watch the military parade on Champs Élysées. As you have said it exceeded all expectations to see the fireworks.

    Were you in Paris for the Fête de la Musique?

    Where will you go when you leave Paris? Well, you never really leave Paris as she stays with you forever in your heart and your memories.


    1. How was the military parade? I'm not great at early mornings but saw the planes flying overhead!

      I was in Paris for the Fête de la Musique this year, but from memory I wasn't feeling well and went to bed quite early. I'm disappointed I missed it (though I did enjoy the afternoon) as everybody always talks about how great the night is -I'll have to try to be there for it next year!

      I'm in Auckland for a month visiting family/applying for a visa, and then I'm moving back to Cambridge in October for my PhD. Paris will definitely stay in my heart, and luckily as my PhD is on French history (colonial tourism in the 1920s & 30s) I'll be back regularly and spending a fair amount of time in the BN! I'm spending another two weeks in France on my way to the UK in September, but I will miss living in Paris... hopefully again one day in the future!

      xx Anna