One of the national events in the French calendar, Bastille Day (to give it the internationally anglicised name), or Le Quatorze Juillet or La Fête Nationale (as the French would actually say), is just around the corner (July 14). And with July finally finding us in the grip of the warmer weather, it’s hard to find the effort to think about what to cook for dinner, let alone what you’re doing in multiple days’ time! Fortunately for you, we’ve scoured London for 8 magnifique ways to celebrate Bastille Day this year.
1. Have a delightful French picnic
Take advantage of the heat by getting together all the ingredients you need for your own French picnic in the sun (or in the shade). First step: head to your favourite French deli to pick up provisions. We’re partial to l’eau à La Bouche and Le Coq Epicier because they sell everything you’ll need. Then, grab a picnic basket and blanket to tie it all together, or just head straight to the nearest park, and get to picnicking!
2. Sip on special cocktails at the UK’s best cocktail bar
The French brand behind the renowned cognac and orange liqueur, Grand Marnier, has partnered up with the award-winning Satan’s Whiskers cocktail bar for an exclusive limited-time menu. They’re taking advantage of the French occasion to celebrate the French liqueur’s impact on the cocktail world, and have whipped up three unique serves that are only available from July 11-16. The Grand Peach Cobbler is our pick of the trio, featuring Grand Marnier’s original liqueur, Cordon Rouge, peach, Lillet Blanc, pineapple, and lemon.
3. Eat properly authentic French food
Do as the French do, or dine where the French dine, by heading to one of London’s authentic French eateries. Whether it’s Casse-Croûte, the first name on most people’s lips when it comes to French cuisine, or London’s oldest family run French Restaurant, Mon Plaisir, there’s plenty to choose from. Check out our handy guide on where to get best French food in London. Just take your pick, you can’t go wrong.
4. Stroll Around South Kensington
In a city with an estimated 400,000 French residents, South Kensington boasts perhaps the largest concentration of London’s French population. There you’ll find plentiful French cafés, independent shops, and eateries all clustered around the areas Institut Français, the Lycée Charles de Gaulle and the Ambassade de France. The strong café culture makes it a joy to wander around and grab a perch wherever takes your fancy, as you immerse yourself in a sample of the French experience in London.
5. Mange on a special lunch
Socca, the French bistro from two Michelin-starred chef Claude Bosi and Samyukta Nair, is ringing in the occasion with a week-long celebration and a special Bastille menu. Beneath a canopy of French flags out on the terrace, guests can enjoy such dishes as pan bagnat, a sandwich of Albacore tuna, Mediterranean vegetables, and eggs, accompanied by shoestring fries before finishing off the meal with some much-loved Madeleines. The special menu is available for lunch, and guests keen to experience more of the menu can then head inside to enjoy some of the signature French dishes.
Reservations can be made here.
6. Party it up escargot-style
Maison François is commemorating Bastille Day with a big ol’ snail-y party, or la Grand Fête de l’Escargot as they’re (more catchily) calling it. The day will start at the neighbouring Chequers where guests can gorge on freshly baked baguettes that have been piled high with buttery, garlicky snails. Meanwhile, entertainment will come in the form of a snail race, a traditional accordion player, and a mime act. What a trio! It’s then off to Frank’s, the bar below Maison François for a Gallic feast of crudites, confit duck, niçoise salad, and with salade niçoise and a classic French strawberry tart.
Make your bookings here.
7. Celebrate at Le Pont de la Tour’s Bastille Day party
Le Pont de la Tour Bistrot have brought back their Bastille Day party once again, for one night only on their outdoor terrace. Guests will be treated to plenty of seafood, live music, and rosé to ring in the French festivities. Running from 5:30-8:30pm, tickets net guests a glass of Mirabeau Rosé and all of the canapés and oysters their heart desires!
Be sure to grab a ticket here.
8. Check out the Eiffel Tower
On a clear day, you can often quite easily see the Eiffel Tower from the viewpoints around London. Okay, so, maybe not actually. It’s really just the Crystal Palace transmission mast. But, hey, it doesn’t take long to get to Paris from London. The Eurostar takes under two and a half hours, so on the same day you could see the genuine article and the imposter. I wonder how many other fake Eiffel Towers there are throughout the world. Don’t they know that identity theft isn’t a joke?