Marseille on Bastille Day

Updated March 2020


My experience in Marseille on Bastille day was an exciting one with a few twists and turns. I visited Marseille in July 2017 for Bastille day and experienced the day with a couple of local girls and their friends.

We met the girls through Airbnb and had been staying with them for 2 night by the time that the 14th July turned up.

Previously we had been out drinking and playing boules with them, also getting to know them better. It also turns out that my many years of playing boules with my parents on holiday in France had been wasted as I am still very bad.

Other things to do in the daytime in Marseille

While in Marseille visited lots of churches, the old port (Vieux Port) and the Fort St Jean. We walked all the way up to the Notre Dame de la garde (Our lady cathedral – it’s black and white) in the bright sunshine and the views are amazing. The architecture is also incredible, built in 1852 and restored in 2009 – it is littered with gold leaf and Neo-Byzantine mosaics.



Bastille Day

Bastille day is such an amazing day to be in France, known in French as the Fête nationale.  The day celebrates the Storming of the Bastille Prison which was a big turning point in the French revolution spanning back to 1790 and the reun Another popular option is to view the fireworks from the Frioul Islands (A group of islands off the coast of Marseilles). To get to the Frioul Island look for information here.

Every year the fireworks are on display over the Vieux Port, and it is one of the biggest displays in France outside Paris. People crowd around the Old Port in their thousands, along with the bars and restaurants along the water front – with table reservations being made months in advance. 


What happened to Marseille Bastille Day 2017?

The short answer is – it got postponed and we ended up not seeing the fireworks.

The plan was for all of us to go to a rooftop bar where one of our friends works and watch the fireworks, however it is such a windy day that the police postponed it because of safety reasons!

We also saw a lot of the parades elsewhere on the TV so it is a fun time. I really enjoyed the electric vibe of the city, it felt like the whole place was very very excited and it was such a shame that we couldn’t watch the fireworks!

So many people were wearing flags and face paint – I feel we didn’t look the part. Many of the shops were on reduced hours and lots of restaurants weren’t open – as is normal with a public holiday.

The only shame is that we will missed the fireworks and a lot of places were shut as it is a national holiday and we had not prepared for the supermarkets and restaurants to be closed.

Happy Bastille Day 2017


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