But, to celebrate la fête nationale in the U.S., either as an expat, a Francophile, or someone just looking for an excuse to throw a soirée in mid-July, you need to get a little more creative. And the theme is easy: It’s French! So really, all you need is French wine, French food, French décor, and French music. If that’s not enough for you, deck your home in blue, white, and red and set off some fireworks.
The French are notoriously fashionable, so you want your guests to follow suit. Encourage them to wear bleu, blanc, et rouge (aka blue, white, and red), the tricolors of the French flag. If they don’t have those duds, encourage your guests to dress simple and sleek, like they imagine a French girl or guy might. Berets, sunglasses, and scarves are welcome, of course.
Like the United States, France’s colors are blue, white, and red. That means you can reuse a lot of your Fourth of July banners, streamers, napkins, and general décor. To help distinguish this red, white, and blue from the décor or July 4, be sure to add French flags on toothpicks, on the wall, or in your food presentation.
The biggest Bastille Day celebration in France is the military parade in Paris. The televised and widely viewed event passes down the Champs-Élysées from l'Arc de Triomphe to la Place de la Concorde. Using Parisian maps or wall decals, recreate the Parisian streets in your own space. Don’t forget an Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe!
The French are known for a great number of things, including their cheeses. To build the perfect French cheese board, be sure to have one selection of each of the major cheese styles: washed-rind, soft or semi-soft cheese, hard or semi-hard cheese, bloomy-rind, and blue. Balance it out with some fresh fruit and a baguette.
Create a playlist of French favorites, including the traditional Marseillaise and accordion music. Consider classic French chanteuses like Carla Bruni or Vanessa Paradis. With an eye on the modern French pop charts, also bump some modern French-language hits like Lartiste’s “Chocolat” and Calogero’s “Je joue de la musique.”
Like the Fourth of July, Bastille Day is celebrated with tons of big, booming fireworks. If it’s legal in your area, invest in a few small-sized fireworks. If that’s a little much for you, gift all of your guests sparklers and play with them outdoors.