Updated: Where to Celebrate Bastille Day in Washington

The French holiday happens Sunday, but the festivities start now.

By: Anna Spiegel

This Sunday marks Bastille Day, the French national holiday, and there are plenty of places to sip Champagne, eat fromage, and get into the Gallic spirit all week long.

Provençal feast at Mintwood Place

When: Tuesday through Sunday

Chef Cedric Maupillier shows his patriotism by whipping up dishes from his native Toulon. Order à la carte or splurge on a five-course feast featuring dishes such as dorade with braised fennel and lamb saddle with ratatouille and squash blossoms. $65 per person; $100 with wine pairings.

Let them eat cake bar at the Phillips Collection

When: Thursday 5 to 8:30 at the Phillips Collection; Malmaison after-party 9 to 2

Brightest Young Things teams up with the gallery for an art-filled soiree, the Unstill Life. Come for cubism-inspired cocktails, absinthe, and an all-you-can-eat cake bar; stay for a gallery talk and tour and an after-party at the newly opened Malmaison.

Bastille Day gala at the French Embassy

When: Friday 7 to midnight

Head to the heart of the festivities during a gala at the Embassy of France, where Chez Billy, Ris, and other restaurants dish up celebratory eats. You can also listen to live jazz, sip cocktails from the open bars, and participate in raffles and auctions. Tickets start at $110 per person.

“Let them eat gougères!” at Central

When: Saturday 5 to 11

Head to Central for dinner and receive a gratis basket of warm, cheesy gougères during Michel Richard’s celebration. In addition to the regular menu you’ll also find Bastille Day specials such as cherry vacherin, bottles of French wine at a 20 percent discount, and jazz quartet Laissez Foure.

Ninth annual Bastille Day block party at L’Enfant Café Bar

When: Saturday (patio party at 3, masquerade ball at 9)

Whether you feel like donning a French maid costume or sipping vodka cocktails and watching burlesque, L’Enfant’s raucous fête is always a fantastic way to celebrate. The festivities spill out beyond the patio, where you’ll find bars serving Stella and Hoegaarden, food trucks like Rito Loco and Pleasant Pops, and lots of entertainment. Can-can dancers and the infamous French maid relay race are always must-sees as well.

Three courses (with plenty of options) at Bastille

When: Sunday 4 to 8:30

It’s only fitting that Alexandria’s neighborhood French spot would celebrate the eponymous holiday. You’ll find plenty of dishes to choose from on the three-course menu—think warm goat cheese salads and duck with grilled peaches—and you can also add a trio of fromage. $39 per person; $51 with a cheese course.

Outdoor fete at Café du Parc

When: Sunday (lunch from noon to 4, dinner from 5 to 9)

The celebrations start early at the Willard Hotel’s French eatery, where you can head over for lunch on the outdoor patio and live music from the Gypsy Roots Quartet. A Gallic-themed grill turns out salmon, lamb chops with ratatouille, petite filet with béarnaise sauce, and more through the day. Servers will also pour French wines.

Afternoon wine festival and tasting menu at 2941

When: Sunday (wine festival from 11 to 2:30, tasting menu from 5:30 to 8:30)

Chef Bertrand Chemel gets in the holiday spirit with a double dose of Bastille festivities. Start with an afternoon wine festival, where $48 buys an all-inclusive menu of French wines and dishes such as grilled merguez sausage sandwiches, mini croque monsieurs, and more. (Kids participate for free.) In the evening, Chemel serves up a four-course tasting menu for $95 per person.

Baguette race at Paul Penn Quarter

When: Sunday (kids' race at 2, adult race at 2:30), 2:30 (adult race).

If a French maid race seems a little too scandaleux, grab the kids and get ready for Paul bakery’s baguette race at the Penn Quarter location. Children and adults can enter their own heats to win prizes including $25 gift certificates and goodie bags from Alliance Française, which is cohosting the event.

Bastille Day at Bistrot du Coin

When: Sunday (dinner at 7 or 9:30, deejay after midnight)

Feel like relaxing over wine and bistro fare in a lively atmosphere? The Dupont brasserie—Washington’s longtime go-to spot to celebrate Bastille Day—isn’t lining up a ton of official events for the holiday, but you can dine on the regular menu at one of two evening seatings and the head upstairs for a deejay and dancing after midnight.

Bastille-themed recipes at the Dupont FreshFarm Market

When: Sunday 8:30 to 1

Heather Terhune of Top Chef season nine fame—remember the feud with Beverly?—makes a guest appearance at the Sunday morning farmers market, where she’ll demonstrate French cutting techniques and share Bastille Day-themed recipes. A few lucky market-goers will also get Chicago Cutlery knife sets during giveaways. 

Bastille-anniversary dinner at Trummer’s on Main 

When: Throughout the week 

Trummer’s turns four on Saturday, and newish chef Austin Fausett has planned a double-celebration dinner that ties in with the French holiday. You’ll find a special three- or six-course Francophile menu with dishes such as blue cheese soufflé and braised escargots. $42 for three courses; $65 for six. 

Crepes and face-painting at Malmaison 

When: Sunday (face-painting from 2 to 4; waiter race at 4; costume-judging at 8)

The newest addition to the Georgetown dining scene throws an all-day affair with children’s face painting, a sweet and savory crepe stand, a waiter race, and the French national anthem on repeat. You can also win a $50 gift card for showing the most French flair.

Have an event you’d like us to add? Let us know in the comments!