By Jessica Allen
Traditionally, Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14, and commemorates the storming of the Bastille on that date in 1789, an event that galvanized the French Revolution and led to the rise of a democratic France. There are several ways to celebrate French National Day—as it’s sometimes called—in NYC throughout the summer, from watching mimes to eating mille-feuille, nibbling croissants to dancing the can-can. Read on for our picks, and have fun!
Pay a Visit to a Pâtisserie
New York, NY 10024
File this one under D for “duh.” French pastries are some of the best around, and we New Yorkers are lucky enough to have some extraordinary pâtisseries in our midst. You can’t go wrong with anything at Mille-Feuille Bakery, run as it is by an expat French family, and helmed by a baker who trained at the Ritz in Paris. Try the classic croissant, or jazz things up with an eclair, brioche, chocolate mousse or pecan chocolate and caramel tart. You’ll certainly want to save room for the mille-feuille itself, decadent layers of delicious puff pastry and pastry cream. Open daily, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Attend an Official Bastille Day Ball
404 10th Ave.
New York, NY 10001
Yup, you read that right: we’re suggesting you attend an actual ball. This event has been taking place since 1924, and offers you the chance to dance the night away and hobnob with Francophone folks like members of the French Consulate at 404 NYC. Live music will be provided by Chloe Perrier and her French Heart Jazz Band as well as DJ Olivier Meiji. You don’t have to wear red, white, and blue (the colors of the French flag), or don a tux, but you should definitely dress to impress. Thursday, July 13; 6 p.m. to midnight; tickets start at $30.
Eat a Seven-Course Dinner
400 Fifth Ave. 2nd Floor
New York City, New York 10018
“Eat. Drink. Be French.,” goes the tagline for the city’s French Restaurant Week, a chance for hungry diners to sample the fare at such restaurants as La Sirène, Maison Hugo, and Brasserie 8 1/2. To celebrate Bastille Day, Ai Fiori is offering a seven-course dinner with wine pairings for $195 per person (plus tax and gratuity), inspired by the French Riviera. Make a reservation, and you’ll dine on a chef’s selection of formaggi, along with bouillabaisse, escargots, and a torchon of foie gras with basil and strawberry. Friday, July 14; $195; reservations required.
Play a Game of Pétanque
128 Smith St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Similar to boules or bowling, pétanque requires its players to toss a ball at another object. It’s more fun than it sounds—we promise. Find out just how much more fun by heading to Brooklyn for Bar Tabac’s annual Pétanque Tournament. Some 70+ teams will be competing on specially designed sand courts, and some 20,000 other souls will be on hand to cheer, provide moral support, and partake of the excellent selection of eats and drinks on offer from booths along Smith Street. Live music, too, from local bands. À votre santé, most definitely. Sunday, July 16; noon to 10 p.m.
Run a Race
Enter at East 66th St.
New York, NY 10065
Sponsored by the New York Road Runners, the France Run is an eight-kilometer loop around Central Park that simultaneously celebrates the bond between the United States and France and lets participants burn off whatever indulgences they’ve imbibed in recent weeks. Will they hand out champagne instead of Gatorade? Sign up, strap on your sneaks, and find out! Prizes at the post-race festival include a trip to Paris on Air France, along with live music, dancing, food and fun for the whole family. Sunday, Aug. 20; race begins at 8 a.m. (staggered start); registration required.