Bastille Day Events in the San Francisco Bay Area 

Bastille Day Events in the San Francisco Bay Area 

France’s national celebrations on July 14th are approaching! If you are a Francophile living in the San Francisco Bay Area, here are several Frenchie festivities to take part in. 

July is the month when both France and the United States celebrate their countries. While the US’s July 4 commemorates the ratification of the Declaration of Independence by congress in 1776, France celebrates the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14 1789. It was a major event in the French Revolution and a year later the Fête de la Fédération (Festival of the Federation) was created to honor the French Republic. 

Bastille Day is also celebrated throughout the United States as France was the US’s strong partner during the American Revolutionary War. But San Francisco has another connection to France starting with the 1850s Gold Rush. The city was called “Paris of the West” because of the huge French population that converged on the city. The area around Clay and Bush streets was a Frenchtown full of stores and restaurants that provided tools, services and food to the miners. In fact, the first Bastille Day celebration in the US was in San Francisco in 1880, the first year of France’s celebration.  

French food, games and quizzes and live music – la fête commence ! © Octamedia

Bastille Day celebrations in the San Francisco Bay Area have continued ever since and 2023 is full of events to raise a glass of wine and toast France. Even today there is much to celebrate regarding the two areas’ connections. From fine wine techniques to high tech opportunities, the sharing of ideas and a wide variety of resources create a continuing strong link. 

Here are some of the ways to celebrate Bastille Day in the San Francisco Bay Area. This year it’s on a Friday so there’s the whole weekend to celebrate. 

Alliance Française de San Francisco, July 14, from 6pm – 11pm  

Held at the Alliance Francaise de San Francisco (AFSF) at 1345 Bush Street, the Bastille Day event will be an evening of enjoying French wine and food along with live music and plenty of French tunes provided by a DJ. The event is free and both members of AFSF and non-members are welcome. Spaces are limited so sign up now. 

Alliance Française de Sacramento, July 14, 6pm – 10pm 

This is Alliance Française de Sacramento’s inaugural Bastille Day event and has the honor of the attendance of Frédéric Jung, France’s Consul General of San Francisco. Held at CLARA, 2420 N Street, the event claims it will “embrace and celebrate the French spirit of le 14 juillet” with an evening of music, dancing, food and other activities. It’s open to families as there will be games and activities for kids from 7pm – 8pm. Then comes music with DJ Roger who will spin a selection of French classics, ’60 pop and current francophone artists like Stromae and Angèle. There will also be singers and a karaoke session. French cuisine and wines will be served as well as ice cream. Want to see French cars? Citroëns will be on display too. 

“What’s special about the French national holiday is that it comes very shortly after July 4th, and the two holidays are not only close in time, but also in heritage,” said Consul General Jung. “For our two countries, the national holiday is an opportunity to reaffirm our shared values of freedom, democracy and, even more so when we’re far from France, fraternity.” 

Comité Officiel Dinner-Dance, July 8, starting at 6pm 

The annual Bastille Day event held at the Embarcadero Plaza will not happen this year but the annual Bastille Day Dinner-Dance continues. It will be held at the Basque Cultural Center, at 599 Railroad Avenue in South San Francisco. The 5-course dinner, including wine, will be followed by dancing to the Ron Borelli orchestra. A raffle will also be available where prizes range from baskets of charcuterie to a yoga session. Consul General Jung will also be enjoying the evening. 

According to Chloé Soroquère, President of the Comité Officiel, Bastille Day events are important to San Francisco “because they celebrate and feature the French culture, companies and community of the city and greater Bay Area. They are much appreciated by the Francophile community and the French – of course – who always welcome an opportunity to celebrate their national day as much as Americans enjoy the 4th of July.” 

French Tech San Francisco Cocktail Celebration, July 14, starting at 7pm 

Celebrate Bastille Day in the South Bay at Benhamou Global Ventures, 1600 El Camino Real, Suite 280, Menlo Park. It will be a classic Silicon Valley event where entrepreneurs, investors and French enthusiasts mingle while enjoying cocktails and canapes. All professionals in Silicon Valley are welcome to be introduced to the French tech and business community while celebrating Bastille Day. What better excuse for a cocktail and a conversation! 

Bastille Day Dinner, Left Bank Restaurants, July 14, 15 and 16 

The Left Bank restaurants specialize in French cuisine and for Bastille Day they go all out. From Moët & Chandon French champagne to coq au vin to éclairs and complimentary petit fours at the Menlo Park location, the restaurants will offer French lunches and dinners. Win prizes and raffles on July 14 and take a selfie with Marie Antoinette all weekend while listening to live music and surrounded with bleu, blanc and rouge decorations. 

Myths and Mysteries of the Bastille with Roger Mummert, Federation of Alliances Françaises USA, July 13, 4pm PT/7pm ET 

Want to learn the facts and the myths of the storming of the Bastille prison? Like any ideological event, there are different interpretations. The Bastille became a worldwide symbol for human rights struggles from 1789 to today’s demonstrations over pension reform. Attend this online event to provide an engaging, smart conversation at any Bastille Day celebration. 

According to Consul General Jung, “July 14th is special this year because it comes after some difficult years impacted by the pandemic, and we’re thrilled to see celebration initiatives emerging spontaneously.”  

There are more Bastille Day events this year, so explore options and let’s start the Bastille Day party. Que la fête commence.

Lead photo credit : Take your pick of July 14th celebrations in and around San Francisco © Octamedia

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Martha Sessums is the France Today Ambassador for San Francisco. Intrigued by France since her first stroll along the Seine, Martha and her husband often travel to Paris to explore the city and beyond. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, delighting in its strong Francophone and French culture community. She was a high-tech public relations executive and currently runs a non-profit continuing education organization.

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  •  Victor Cruz
    2023-07-15 02:17:17
    Victor Cruz
    I recently had the pleasure of reading your captivating article on France Today, where you highlighted the Bastille Day events taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is truly thrilling to see the rich French culture and the spirit of Bastille Day being celebrated across the Atlantic, and I wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation and celebrate the significance of these exciting events. Bastille Day holds great historical and cultural significance for the French community, and it's heartwarming to witness the festivities extending to the San Francisco Bay Area. Your article provided a comprehensive guide to the various events, showcasing the diverse range of activities and celebrations available to locals and visitors alike. By highlighting these Bastille Day events, you not only inform readers but also contribute to the promotion and appreciation of French culture in the Bay Area. These events provide an opportunity for people to immerse themselves in French traditions, enjoy delicious cuisine, experience lively music and dance performances, and celebrate the shared values of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The participation and support of local businesses, organizations, and community members in organizing and attending these events demonstrate the deep appreciation for French culture and the desire to strengthen cultural connections within the San Francisco Bay Area. I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the organizers and participants of the Bastille Day events for their dedication to creating memorable experiences and fostering a sense of unity and cultural exchange. Your efforts contribute to the richness and diversity of the Bay Area's cultural tapestry. Thank you for sharing the exciting Bastille Day events taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area through France Today. Your article serves as a valuable resource, inspiring individuals to engage with French culture, and fostering a sense of connection and celebration within the local community.