San Francisco, CA

How to Celebrate Bastille Day in San Francisco

Claire Handscombe

In San Francisco's Gold Rush heyday, French immigrants were among the many who made the journey in the hopes of getting rich. These days, there is estimated to be 60,000 people of French heritage in the Bay Area. Bastille Day -- France's National Day -- is a big day for most of them, a day of celebration and patriotism.

San Francisco is also very present in French cullture, with bestselling books by juggernaut authors Marc Levy and Guillaume Musso set there, for example, and at least one classic song still sung around campfires that evokes the city.

Whether you are from France, or distantly related to French settlers, or simply a Franophile who enjoys good food and good wine, there's a way for you to celebrate Bastille Day in San Francisco in 2021. Here are a few.

'60s Dance Party

The 1960s were arguably the hey dey of French pop, and the BARDOT A GOGO dance party, and at this fun party you'll be able to celebrate Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Dutronc, Francoise Hardy, and many more. "Shagadelic attire" is encouraged!

Bastille Photo Week

This competition is a great opportunity to discover French-owned and French-themed local businesses and give them a boost on social media, so it's a win win! From Sunday, July 11 through Sunday, July 18, post pictures of yourself enjoying French and Francophone restaurants, stores, vineyards, schools, and more and you could win a Club Med vacation! More information, including details of who to tag on your Facebook and Instagram posts, can be found here.

Croissants at a French Bakery

San Francisco isn't lacking in French bakeries. Why not try one of them? Les Gourmands, for example, has a wonderful menu of French made juices (strawberry! apricot!), as well as puff pastries of various flavours (chausson aux pommes being the most typical), lemon meringue, sahdwiches, and savory classics like croque-monsieur, as well as croissants of various kinds.

Dinner at Café Bastille

The aptly named eatery will have music, drinks, and French food to celebrate the day!

Dinner at Mathilde's

The French Bistro on Fifth Street will have music on the patio, and you'll be able to eat all your favorite French food. Before the music starts, from 5 pm to 6.30 pm, you'll be able to enjoy a prix fixe menu for $40.

Online tour of San Francisco, the "Paris of the Pacific"

You can learn about the history of San Francisco's Gold-rush era French Quarter though online tours in both French and English, at different times on Wednesday, July 14 and Saturday, July 17.

Quiz and Conversation

On Friday, July 16, at 10.30 am PDT, the Alliance Francaise de San Francisco hosts a quiz about French history and politics, followed by a chat about France and Bastille Day. Tickets are sold out but you can be added to a waiting list.

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Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC, in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but really, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a monthly show about news and views from UK books and publishing; the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan; and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.

Washington, DC

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