Bastille Day, the French National Day, is held annually on July 14 to commemorate the storming of the Bastille fortress in 1789.
The seaport of Brest in western France transforms every four years into a mecca for boating fanatics with “Les Tonnerres de Brest,” or the Brest Maritime Festival. This year’s celebration was another first for the new French president Francois Hollande after the Bastille Day celebrations came to a close. Along with close to a million spectators, President Hollande witnessed vessels from all over the world last week demonstrating centuries of their sailing prowess before setting out for a spectacular parade finale.
UPDATE: Fireworks ignite the French sky as another Bastille Day comes to an end.
On July 14, 1789, the people of France stormed the Bastille violently adding momentum to the French Revolution. The medieval fortress and prison had become a symbol of the King’s authority, who stood by and watched as the French economy plummeted and taxes soared.
The annual Bastille Day celebration honors this victory with one of Europe’s largest military parades along the Champs-Élysées in Paris. This year’s parade strove to be a grand event for French President Francois Hollande’s first year in office.