Photograph by Martin Bureau/AFP/GettyImages

Berets and Beauty Spots: Bastille Day in the U.S.

  1. Bastille Day in France

    Bastille Day in France

    We may call it Bastille Day, but the French call it La Fete Nationale, or simply Le quatorze juillet. It's the holiday to commemorate the 1789 storming of the Bastille prison—a symbol of France's let-them-eat-cake crowd. In France, the holiday is celebrated with traditional military parades and fireworks, but across the ocean, Americans seem to prefer to give it a comical (though surely not disrespectful) twist. We've gathered a sampling of unusual celebrations that don't require a passport.

    Photograph by Martin Bureau/AFP/GettyImages
  2. New Orleans

    New Orleans

    With its strong French roots, New Orleans is a natural for Bastille Day celebrations, and it delivers with a weeklong festival. Be sure you're there for the French Dog Contest starting at 9 a.m. July 14 in Dutch Alley. Poodles, French bulldogs, and bichons in "native" dress will compete, and may answer the question: How does a bulldog carry a baguette?

    Photograph by Pat English/Getty Images
  3. Philadelphia


    Benjamin Franklin had strong ties to France. Maybe that's why Philadelphia throws a big party on July 14. The main events happen at the Eastern State Penitentiary where visitors can storm their very own prison before being showered with Tastykakes (a Philly favorite) by a Marie Antoinette impersonator.

    Photograph by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images
  4. Seattle


    Seattle's Bastille Day celebration also gives your dog a chance to finally sport that beret he got for Christmas. In addition to a dog parade, the city has a Citroën exhibition and a fencing demonstration.

    Photograph by Nisian Hughes/Gallery Stock
  5. Austin, Tex.

    Austin, Tex.

    Demonstrate your lawn bowling skills with a pétanque (a form of boules and similar to bocce) contest on the evening of the 14th at Austin's Alliance Française. While you're there, you can also catch a "Guignol" puppet show.

    Photograph by Linus Gelber/Getty Images
  6. San Francisco

    San Francisco

    What could be more French than Brigitte Bardot? It's a stretch connecting her to the French Revolution, but San Francisco's Rickshaw Stop Restaurant is throwing a "Bardot-a-Go-Go," an all-ages party featuring free ’60s hairstyling.

    Photograph by Bernardo Ricci Armani/Getty Images
  7. Charleston, S.C.

    Charleston, S.C.

    You want a cake-eating contest? Head to Fish Restaurant in Charleston—a city with a strong Huguenot connection—to pay tribute to possibly the world's most misattributed line. There's evidence that Marie Antoinette never actually uttered it. Fish will also offer can-can dancers and burlesque.

    Photograph by Sophie Broadbridge/Getty Images
  8. Media, Pa.

    Media, Pa.

    Here's one for the felines: As part of its Bastille Day Festival, Fig in Pennsylvania offers an Aristocats Cat Show. Kind of a stretch equating a Disney movie with a French national holiday, but it's all in the spirit of celebration. You can also watch a Bastille-storming reenactment.

    Photograph by Eriko Sugkiki Volat/Getty Images
  9. Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Brooklyn, N.Y.

    The owners of two Brooklyn beagles came up with the idea of a singing dog contest in Prospect Park on July 14. Sounds like fun, but you have to wonder if the mere presence of a beret actually makes it French.

    Photograph by Joseph H. Bailey/National Geographic/Getty Images
  10. Long Island City, N.Y.

    Long Island City, N.Y.

    It may not be as French as mime, but the Caught in the Act Circus is putting on a Bastille Day juggling show on the evenings of the 14th and 15th. As they say: Freedom will be in the air.

    Photograph by Elisabeth Toll/LinkImage/Getty Images
  11. Milwaukee


    Cathedral Square Park in Milwaukee will be home to one of the largest Bastille Day celebrations on this side of the Atlantic. Stretching over three days, it includes roaming minstrels, Cajun cuisine, and, most important, a 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica with hourly light shows.

    Photograph by Kate B, Courtesy East Town
  12. New Orleans

    New Orleans

    Back to our Paris on the Mississippi for the annual French Quarter Waiters and Bartenders Races. Actual French waiters may be known for their somewhat disdainfully relaxed pace, but these guys really move.

    Photograph by Amanda Koster/Getty Images