Though completely unintentional, our stay in Paris overlapped with Bastille Day. Naturally, once we found this out, we were excited to be in Paris and join in any festivities that might be happening. The thing that most excited us was fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. We researched and scoped out the best (and safest) place to watch the fireworks that evening.
After a day of sightseeing and trying to avoid larger crowds celebrating the holiday, we headed out for our evening of picnicking and watching fireworks. We had read that the Parc de Belleville was a great place to watch the fireworks… great views of the Eiffel Tower, but with smaller amounts of people. Well, we hopped on the Metro and headed straight there. The closest Metro was about a 10 minute walk to the Parc de Belleville, but we got lost. So it was more like 25-30 minutes. We also planned to buy picnic food (wine, cheese, bread– very Parisian) on our way to the Parc de Belleville. Well, little did we know, most places close early on Bastille Day. We were starving and finally found a small bakery that was still open. Their selections were slim, but we bought some croissants, and the men who ran the store were kind enough to throw in several extra croissants and a couple loaves of bread for free. With our picnic of carbs, we continued on to our final destination.
When we got there, we were greeted with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower and a crowd of 1000s of Parisians already camped out ready for the fireworks.
Note to self: the actual Parc de Belleville is closed in the evening, so you will be crowded with 1000 of your closest friends above the park entrance. We were tired, hungry, and felt very wary of pick pockets and other crime in the area. Let’s just say our walk from the Metro felt very uncomfortable. As much as we wanted to see the fireworks, we realized that the cons far outweighed the pros, and we ended up heading back to our hotel.
There was a restaurant right by our hotel and we ordered take away and waited a pleasant 20 minutes for our food. While we waited, we enjoyed the company of the charming young French waiter. We visited this restaurant twice in our short stay in Paris, and were waited on by the same young man both times. Hamburgers and French fries in hand, we headed across the street to our hotel, ready to watch the fireworks on TV from our hotel room.
Here’s a time lapse of the 2015 fireworks I found on YouTube. Absolutely stunning. If you make it to the bottom of the post, I will share a video with a full link to the fireworks.
Am I slightly disappointed we didn’t see them in person? Yes, however, watching from the safety (and comfort) of our hotel room, and not having to fight the gigantic numbers of people riding the Metro home at the conclusion of the fireworks helped ease the sadness (that and having full bellies after delicious burgers… we didn’t realize how starving we were!).
Also, speaking of hotels… we stayed at Hotel Mary’s République while we were in Paris and were very pleased with our stay. We were right across the street from the entrance to the Oberkampf Metro station, which was wonderful. Our goal everywhere we stayed was to be near public transportation, and this was definitely the closest we got. Our room was small with our beds (a double and two twins) in one straight line with minimal floor space. We had a tiny bathroom and a window that opened into an inner courtyard– I’m pretty sure the people across from us could see straight into our room. There was no air conditioning, but thankfully it wasn’t to warm during our stay in Paris. Mary’s was definitely not the most posh place, but it was cheap, clean, we felt safe, and it was near public transportation, so it worked for us. Also, Mary’s is the kind of hotel that keeps your key at the front desk when you are gone, and you pick it up on your return. This was our first experience with that, which slightly concerned me at first, but nothing went missing from our room, so it was all good!
Full fireworks show: