Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Our Bastille Day

Do you want to see some photos of the Bastille Day Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower? I have a few!

It doesn't get dark here until 11pm at the moment though so we had to find something else to fill the rest of the day. After having had the peace of our country breakfast shattered by the sound of the French Air Force jets flying over on their way to the parade at the Champs Elysées, I walked down to our Sunday market to buy fruit, cheese and bread. Essential ingredients for a French picnic.

I had wanted to go to the Bastille Day picnic beside the canal at Versailles, ever since I read this post when we first moved to France two years ago. This 14th July looked set to be one of the hottest days of the year so even though Keith was away on a work trip, I decided we couldn't miss the opportunity to participate in a celebration so close to home.

After enjoying our food there was time to relax in the much sought after shady spots under the trees. Florence also took the opportunity insisted on going for her first ever pony ride. There are no good photos of that as it was beyond me to manage a three year old, a grumpy pony and a camera (mums and dads get to lead the ponies themselves, so French!) but you can see evidence of this event on Instagram.

The picnic was a very relaxed event. Locals, dressed in white, and tourists just out enjoying the Sunday sunshine.

I think the Palace of Versailles is best enjoyed from the back garden! We don't go often enough, but I never get over how easy it is to drive into the park through the back gate and enjoy this view for free.

We went to see the fireworks with friends from the girls' school. After dinner at their apartment we left our two toddlers with the babysitter and set out to find the best place to watch the fireworks that wouldn't be too crowded or too noisy. My girls have an unreasonable fear of firework noise, but they still wanted to see the show!


Having walked from one end of the 16th arrondissement to the other we finally settled on the Place de Mexico which is one of those spots in Paris that offers up an unexpected view of the Eiffel Tower and it turned out to be the perfect choice.

We arrived with an hour to go before the fireworks started and bagged a spot at the side of the street and I got my camera out to practice my night time exposures. By the time the fireworks started the whole road was packed.

Not long after we arrived another photographer came and started setting up his tripod right next to us ready to take some serious firework pictures. We started chatting and found out he was also American and that after having scouted out shooting locations on the Champs de Mars and Trocadero, which were apparently way too crowded, he had settled on the exact same spot we had found! It was a great experience to be shooting the same scene right next to someone who really knows what they are doing and Albert was very generous with his tips and advice. You can see his amazing photograph from the night here.

So, after all that waiting here are my fireworks photos. This tutorial was a big help in ensuring I succeeded in getting some good hand held shots. Enjoy and Happy Bastille Day! Which, by the way, only Anglophones say. For the French, the day is La Fête Nationale or Le quatorze juillet.



  1. Looked like a perfect day! Love the picnic shot of the girls! Your fireworks photos are stunning! What a great experience to get photo tips! I guess I'll be asking you plenty of questions!

    I chuckled about the firework noise as my younger 2 daughters have the same fear of the noise. Both of them have learned to enjoy watching but sit with hands over their ears.

    Happy Summer - enjoy!

  2. You had a lot more fun than we did. I love your first shot of the fireworks, just the bottom of the tower coming out from the smokiness - that's my favourite.

  3. Place de Mexico -- right down the street from where we lived and one of our favorite vantage points for Eiffel Tower views!! Great photos, Nicky! Had many a picnic on the Versailles grounds, sigh. You should definitely take the girls rowing on the canal if you haven't done it already. Julia says "Bonjour" to Georgia and Savannah! Cheers from Maureen

  4. Your photos are absolutely stunning! What lens did you shoot with? And what luck to end up next to a photographer! I love talking shop with people like that.


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