My Travel Blog

Paris on Bastille Day – What an Experience!

We only spent a few days in St. Jean de Losne, and then it was off to Paris for three nights and then home for a quick visit to see friends and family.

Like most tourists we love to walk the streets of Paris.  Earlier in the year our friends Tess and Bruce had brought us a hostess gift of chocolates from Fauchon.  They are crazy expensive, but oh do they taste good.  We found the shop and bought a selection of incredible candies that we horded for the next couple of weeks.   Sitting in the middle of the square across from Fauchon was this strange looking church, Eglise de la Madeleine.  It looks like a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, but it’s a Catholic church.  We inside to check the place out, and just as we were leaving Lisa noticed a flyer announcing a concert at the church that night.  Listening to beautiful music inside these massive cathedrals is always a treat.  That night we returned and were not disappointed.

“The concert inside Eglise de la Madeleine.”

The following day was Bastille Day, which is the French equivalent to our July 4th, or at least the way each country celebrates is very similar.  We got an early start to go see the parade figuring we would beat some of the crowds.  Unfortunately the crowds got an even earlier start figuring that they would beat us.  The metro ride was the trip from hell.  We were packed in like sardines, and for whatever reason they were running the metro exceedingly slow, and even stopping between stations.  On top of all that they closed the metro stops close to the Champs Elysees so we had to walk a few extra miles.  Fortunately we had left early so we ended up making it to a relatively good viewing area before the parade began.  The best part of the parade is the start where nine fighter jets fly down the Champs Elysees at low altitude streaming red, white, and blue exhausts.  Given the crowds, the roar of the jets, and the setting it is very cool.

“The start of the parade.”

“Some heavy iron rolling down the Champs Elyesse.”

“Some four legged soldiers marching down the Champs Elyesse.”

“More four legged soldiers.”

That night we went to the restaurant Verjus and had a superb eight-course meal.  There are no choices on the menu.  Everyone gets the same seven-course meal, though they will accommodate you if there is something on the menu you don’t like.  If you go, and we highly recommend it, don’t spend the money for the extra cheese course.  It was the one part of the meal that was a disappointment.

“One of eight courses at Verjus.”

After dinner it was time for the fireworks show.  We saw it twelve years ago, and it was without a doubt the best fireworks show we had ever seen.  We were not disappointed.  The French really know how to do fireworks and they come out in mass to see them.  In the case of the Paris Bastille Day show it was something like two million countrymen came to watch. I’ve never seen crowds like that in my life.  After the mornings disaster on the metro we decided to start walking until the crowds thinned out.  It was an hour and twenty-minute walk back to the hotel, and the crowds finally thinned out just as we got to our room, ugh.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.