Things to Do

Where to Celebrate Bastille Day in DC

Baguette relay races, French maid costumes, mimes, and more.
A very happy lady enjoying Bastille Day in DC. Photo by Elvert Barnes / Flickr.

One hot July day in 1789, a thousand Parisians stormed the Bastille prison. There were only seven inmates held there at the time, but it was that moment that went on to mark the beginning of the French Revolution. Here’s a roundup of the best ways to bring out your inner Frenchman and celebrate the occasion.

1. Bastille Day Party

Wunder Garten at NOMA, 150 M St., NE
July 11, 3 to 10 PM

Bastille Day wouldn’t be complete without King Louis XVI–and in this celebration, he’ll actually serve as your host. He’s graciously providing burlesque and can-can performances, as well as a masquerade ball. Marie Antoinette will be there, too. That’s not all: You can also participate in a French maid relay race–in full costume, of course. Tickets $7, French maid costumes $25.

2. Le Diplomate

1601 14th St., NW
June 10 to 12

The popular DC café will have a mime on premises this weekend, as they host a weekend-long festival for the holiday. Their patio will be converted into a street side pétanque court, which is essentially French bocce. Guests will choose from a wide selection of French food specialities, along with themed cocktails–Egalit
é, Liberté, and Fraternité, to name a few.

3. Hermione Visits Alexandria

Alexandria City Marina, 0 Cameron St., Alexandria
June 10 to 12

The French tall ship Hermione is an exact replica of the one that brought Marquid de Lafayette to meet with George Washington in 1780, when Lafayette shared the news that the French would help out in the American Revolution. Hermione is sailing 3,819 miles from France to dock in Alexandria–the first of 12 stops on the ship’s tour. Dockside activities from the 10th to the 12th of July will include special lectures, a film screening, and food offered from some of the area’s French restaurants. Free timed tickets to tour the Hermione will be distributed between 8:30 AM and noon each day. Dockside exhibits and festivities are free.

4. Lafayette Returns to America

Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Rd., NW
July 10, from 7:30 PM to midnight

Bastille Day 2015 is put on by the the Tricolore Committee, a French/French-American non-profit group in DC. Thirty-four French restaurants will be at the event, along with musical performances by Chelsey Green and the Green Project, with a DJ to follow. You’ll dance alongside the baroque dancers of New York Baroque Dance Company and the 18th century dancers of Gadsby’s Tavern. This year’s theme is centered on General Lafayette’s second visit to the US in 1780. $110 to $175 per person.

5. French Festival at Hillwood

Hillwood Estate, 455 Linnean Ave., NW
July 11, 9:30 AM to 7 PM

Explore the Hillwood Estate as if it were Versailles. There will be live dance and music performances by New York Baroque Dance Company and Kevin Shannon. Happenstance Theater will fill the estate with 18th-century French nobles and mimes. $18.

6. Baguette Relay Race

Paul Bakery and Cafe (Penn Quarter Location)
July 14, 11 AM to 12 PM

Paul’s fifth annual baguette relay race is back, open to both children and adults. Grab friends to make a team of six, and head to Penn Quarter to quick-walk your way to the finish line–using baguettes as batons. The winner will receive a free lunch after the race. Free.

7. Bastille Day Celebration

Sofitel DC, 806 15th St., NW
July 14, 7 to 11 PM

Veuve Clicquot and Art Soiree’s celebration takes place this Saturday and will include champagne, macaroons, and a live band–Bitter Dose Combo, a DC gypsy-jazz group. Also, Marie Antoinette will hand out dessert. $15 to $30.

8. Bastille Day Trivia

Ventnor Sports Cafe, 2411 18th St., NW
July 14, 8 PM

For all the history buffs who want to show off what they know, Say KNOW to Trivia is putting on a Bastille Day-themed trivia night, where you’ll be quizzed on everything and anything French. Free.

9. Et Voila

5120 MacArthur Blvd., NW
July 14 to July 19, 5 to 10 PM

Patrons at this northwest DC French restaurant will be treated to a Bastille Day special menu, made up of a three-course array of classic French dishes. $39.95 per person.

10. Central Michel Richard’s Storm the Wine List

Central Michel Richard, 1001 Penn Ave., NW
July 14

French restaurant Central Michel Richard will have a three-course menu prepared for Bastille Day celebrators. Also, they will be offering 20 percent off all their French bottles of wine. Complimentary gougeres will be provided with the fixed menu. $45 for three-course meal, optional wine pairing $22.

11. Bistrot du Coin

Bistrot du Coin, 1738 Connecticut Ave., NW
July 14

After dinner seatings at 7 and 9 PM, the tables and chairs will be cleared, and Bastille Day celebrations will begin. DJ Ash will play through the night, along with other musicians and performers. Come early: Last year’s club was packed. Free.

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