La Fête de la Bastille offers the perfect excuse to picnic with wine, cheese, and baguette.
July 14 marks the 229th anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille—a monumental day in French history that would shape the revolution. Bastille Day, the holiday that celebrates this anniversary, is observed across France, not with prison riots (like on the very first 14 Juillet), but rather with fireworks, festivities, and lots of excellent snacking.
During the day, many French people enjoy picnics outside; but wherever they are, they are eating and drinking until the fireworks.
To plan your own Bastille Day gathering, here's what you'll need.
Prep make-ahead picnic dishes.
Here are nine of our favorite make-ahead French dishes, from bacon, cheddar, and onion quiche to Provençal vegetable tart. Every one of these dishes works perfectly at room temperature.
Oh, and don't forget pâté. We love this one from Jaques Pépin.
Make low-ABV cocktails so you can drink through the afternoon.
Mixologist Natasha David concocted three perfect cocktails featuring classic French spirits and liqueurs.
"I’m a huge fan of low ABV [alcohol by volume] drinking, so on Bastille Day when you’re outside, drinking all day long, it’s nice to drink something that’s a little lighter in alcohol," she told Food & Wine. "Having a drink at 5 p.m. seems kind of decadent, but it’s such a wonderful thing to do on a summer night, to sit outside and have a drink at 5 in the afternoon.”
Splurge on unique French cheeses.
You could grab some classic camembert—a personal favorite picnic cheese—or you could branch out and explore other regions of France. Here are three special (and lesser-known) French cheeses, recommended to us by a cheesemonger who knows what she's talking about.
If you're making a cheese board, which you absolutely should, make sure to follow a few simple guidelines.
Treat yourself to classic French wines.
Buy extra baguette from your nearest French bakery, so you can use the leftovers in these amazing baguette-forward recipes.
If you're not the type to plan a picnic, you can always just walk over to Umami Burger, where Daniel Boulud has designed a special burger just for the holiday: "The Umami Frenchie," made with an 18 percent fat burger patty, topped with caramelized onions, crispy pork belly rillons, Dijon mustard, and an arugula salad.