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 Jul 14 2021

Le Quatorze Juillet and the Bals Des Pompiers

Le Quatorze Juillet, or formally called, La Fête Nationale, is the National Day of France, which is celebrated on July 14, every year. It commemorates the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, a major event of the French Revolution, as well as the Fête de la Fédération, which celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790.

It is celebrated as a day of leisurely family activities and festivities, adorned with a splendid military parade displaying French and allied power on the Champs-Elysées. In the evening, fireworks and popular dancing festivities take place throughout the country.


Major Christian is part of the Plans Directorate where he mainly does planning and administrative work, as well as tracking tasks on the way of their approval process. Through previous assignments, he is quite familiar with the NATO workflow and sees himself as the "Swiss Knife" of his branch, supporting the other team members with his international experience. Today, he invites us to Paris and shares a deep-rooted French tradition with us.

Did you know the Paris Fire Brigade is hosting the 'Bals des Pompiers', public dancing festivities on the French National Day?
The Paris Fire Brigade (BSPP – Brigade des sapeurs-pompiers de Paris) dates back to 1793, just four short years after the storming of the Bastille, and in 1810 Napoleon decreed it to be a military unit of the French Army devoted to the safety of Paris after a particularly devastating fire burned for 23 hours in the city. Today, the BSPP includes 8,700 men and women, making it the largest fire brigade in Europe and third largest in the world.

On the night of the 13th of July, many traditional balls are organized, and Paris converts itself into a giant dance-floor between 9 pm and 4 am of the next morning. In almost every district of the capital, firemen of the BSPP organize the popular 'Bals des Pompiers' in their courtyards. Everybody is invited to join listening and dancing to live music for a rousing Bastille Day celebration.


Funds raised are used to improve staff conditions and are intended for BSPP's social works, an association that assists injured or ill firefighters and accompanies BSPP orphans and their families.

Sadly, in 2021, the traditional Bals des Pompiers had to be cancelled in and around Paris, due to the current health crisis.

Story by Joint Support and Enabling Command

In the evening of the Bastille Day, the Eiffel Tower is lightened by fireworks
The Bastille Day military parade has been held in the morning, each year in Paris since 1880. While  previously held elsewhere within or near the capital city, since 1918  it has been held on the Champs-Elysées,
Napoleon decreed the BSPP to be a military unit of the French Army in 1810, devoted to the safety of Paris.
Every year, the 'Bals des Pompiers' attract thousands of people to dance in the streets of Paris.

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