Where to Celebrate Bastille Day in Philadelphia

Liberté, égalité, fraternité ... and lots of macarons and wine.

Bastille Day

Bastille Day celebration at Parc / Photograph courtesy of Parc

Commemorating the storming of the Bastille prison during the Revolution, le quatorze juillet (July 14th) is France’s celebration of independence.

For so long, Bastille Day in Philly was synonymous with the Bearded Ladies Cabaret at Eastern State Penitentiary. John Jarboe, dressed as iconic chanteuse Édith Piaf, would headline a whimsical retelling of the French Revolution, complete with a person dressed as a baguette, Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” rewritten with lyrics about the revolution, and la pièce de resistance: Marie Antoinette ordering hundreds of Tastykakes to rain down from the prison. Nothing will ever fill the Krimpet-sized hole in my heart.

But if the Francophile in you still longs to get your liberté-égalité-fraternité on, here are your best bets around Philly.

Bastille Day Cabaret at Royal Boucherie
For a special early Bastille Day celebration, burlesque performer Lelu Lenore and friends will perform at this French-inspired bistro — in various Marie Antoinette-inspired costumes, obviously — on July 12th. The event is for ages 21 and up, and your $30 ticket includes the show and a glass of bubbly.

And for the rest of the week, from July 12th through 15th, Royal Boucherie will offer a special Bastille Day menu (including escargot-and-brie crêpes, foie gras and roasted peach tartes, A5 Wagyu Sirloin “Bourguignon” and a goat cheese Napoleon) as well as fine wines and two specialty cocktails: the Parisian Sour and the Marseille Martini.
$30, July 12th, 7-11 p.m.; special menu is pay-as-you-go from July 12th-15th. Royal Boucherie, 52 South 2nd Street.

Parc’s Bastille Day Celebration
Bastille Day is also Parc’s (15th!) birthday, so naturally the French restaurant goes all out with food and drink specials, live music, kids’ activities and more. This year, Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society will be performing live jazz throughout the day (noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.), and there will be kids’ crafts from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m., courtesy of Primp + Play. As for food and drink specials? Their adorable ice-cream cart will be parked on the sidewalk all day, selling treats to restaurant guests and passersby alike. Inside, the St. Germain cocktail cart will make you a gorgeous, decked-out beverage. Salut!
Pay-as-you-go, July 14th, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., 225 South 18th Street.

Flag Raising at City Hall
The morning of Bastille Day, join Alliance Française and other French organizations at City Hall to sing “La Marseillaise” and raise the French flag. The ceremony will include an official city proclamation, a speech from Marine Havel (honorary consul of France), and a children’s choir from PhilaFLAM.
Free, July 14th, 11 a.m., City Hall, 1400 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

Bastille Day Party at Rodin Garden Bar
Gather among the scultpures to grab a drink, listen to tunes and poetry by DuiJi Mshinda of Vinyl Tap 215, and check out Jajhira Photography‘s floral-focused mini studio. Admission is free; and drinks and snacks are pay-as-you-go, but your first drink is free if you’re a member of Young Friends.
Pay-as-you-go, July 14th, 4-8:30 p.m., Rodin Museum Garden, 2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Bastille Day at Matines Café
The Parisian cafe in Chestnut Hill is celebrating with free rosé, pastis and petit fours, a prize wheel (to win berets and t-shirts), live French accordion music, and more.
Pay-as-you-go, July 14th, 4-6 p.m., Matines Café, 89 Bethlehem Pike.

Bastille Day cocktail

La Vie en Rose cocktail at Forsythia for Bastille Day / Photograph by Max Mester

Bastille Day at Forsythia
Stop by this Old City French bar and restaurant on Bastille Day for a one-day-only prix-fixe menu, drink specials, a vintage Citröen DS car parked outside for photo ops, and live entertainment. The six-course meal includes escargot, panisse with raclette fondue, and a baba au Grand Marnier for dessert. In addition to the menu, they’ll be mixing up some special themed cocktails including A Drama in Paris, Cinq à Sept (which, coincidentally, is when the drink specials will be available!), and La Vie en Rose (with rosé, naturally).
$65, July 14th, 5-7 p.m., Forsythia, 233 Chestnut Street.

Block Party at The Good King Tavern
For the seventh year running, Good King Tavern is shutting down the streets with music by Liberty Bellows, French street food specials, games (including la pétanque, which is kind of like the French version of bocce ball), face-painting, balloon-twisting and a raffle giveaway. The restaurant itself will also be open all day serving some food specials (walk-in dining only).
Pay-as-you-go, July 15th, noon-8 p.m., 614 South 7th Street.

bastille day

Celebrate Bastille Day around Philly. / Photograph courtesy of Good King Tavern

Alliance Française Party in FDR Park
Bring your own picnic and meet at the Boathouse at FDR Park for a fun, family-friendly afternoon of games, trivia and a paper airplane contest. Pre-register online.
$10, July 16th, 2-5 p.m., FDR Park, 1500 Pattison Avenue.