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Bastille Day is July 14. It commemorates a significant event in French history — the siege and fall of the Bastille, a royal fortress in Paris, which led to the abolition of the monarchy. Le quatorze juillet, not unlike Fourth of July in the U.S., is celebrated with parades, concerts, picnics and tons of fireworks. Oh, and masquerade balls and firemen’s galas, where firehouses open their doors to the public for dancing and merriment (giving new meaning to the phrase “burning up the dance floor”). Not going to be in France but still want to celebrate the French National Day? Here are seven ways to celebrate your inner Francophile on this side of the pond:

Also: The best locations for recreating the perfect movie kiss

Storming of the Bastille reenactment in Philadelphia

Storming of the Bastille reenactment in Philadelphia | Flickr CC: Amanda Cegielski

Enjoy a Storming of the Bastille reenactment: Philadelphia, PA

Philly‘s Eastern State Penitentiary (a former prison turned tourist attractions) teams up with the Bearded Ladies, an experimental cabaret troupe, to recreate the French Revolution in a so-called “hour-long spectacle of song, dance, beheading, and raining Tastykakes.” Taking place Saturday, July 16, the lively (and deadly?) presentation includes appearances by Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Ben Franklin and a six-foot French baguette—naturally.

Macarons from Laduree

Macarons from Laduree | Flickr CC: John Tregoning

Stock up on Laduree macarons: Miami, FL

Fancy French confectionary Laduree has set up three U.S. shops, two of which are in New York and one in Miami. The South Beach location feels like an unlikely, but especially delightful, place to try French macarons, the small, delicate, meringue-based cookies that come in inspired flavors like hazelnut, orange blossom, salted caramel and pistachio. Perfect for a Bastille Day picnic (or any day).

Can can dancers in New York City

Can can dancers in New York City | Flickr CC: Sharon Terry

See a French flick: New York, NY

What could be more romantic than outdoor cinema in the park on a summer’s eve (with a blanket and bottle of wine, of course)? New York’s Films on the Green festival screens a selection of classic, New Wave and contemporary French films, with English subtitles, through September 8. Upcoming Friday movies include Un Flic, a 1972 film by Jean-Pierre Melville, Cleo From 5 to 7, the 1962 Left Bank film by Agnes Vardo and Boyfriends and Girlfriends, a 1987 comedy by Eric Rohmer. NYC also has plenty of Bastille Day celebrations, the most notable of which takes place on 60th Street betweenLexington and Fifth avenues.

Coaches teaching how to play petanque at Bryant Park

Coaches teaching how to play petanque at Bryant Park | Flickr CC: Nekenasoa

Play petanque: New York, NY

Another option if you’re in NYC: Head to Bryant Park in Midtown on Fridays to partake in petanque. A petanque club called La Boule New Yorkaise provides lessons on the French game of “boules” (balls)—similar to Italian bocce or British lawn bowling—from 11am–7pm, weather permitting, and hosts the occasional tournament.

Visit the Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame

Visit the Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame | Flickr CC: Michel Curi

Brush up on your French: Montreal, Quebec

An online search of “Montreal” and “Bastille Day” turns up several queries along the lines of “Does Montreal actually have any Bastille Day events?” and “Do French Canadians even celebrate Bastille Day?” The answers are “oui” and “oui.” Festivities certainly aren’t as widespread as La fete nationale, also known as Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, which takes place in June, but Canadians and American Francophiles alike can enjoy concerts, games, food and more at the French Union’s annual fete. Plus, the third largest French-speaking city in the world offers many opportunities to practice your language skills.

See all the dogs in stripes on Granville Island

See all the dogs in stripes on Granville Island | Flickr CC: Ruocaled

Vote on your favorite chien: Vancouver, B.C.

Besides offering such activities as picnics, concerts, French storytelling, mime performances and face painting, the Bastille Day Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, features a….(drumroll, please)…French dog contest! No, this is not a event for French bulldogs only; it’s open to any  “Frenchified” dog — i.e., one bedecked in red, white, blue or any other kind of French costume. The parade of tres chic chiens happens on Granville Island on July 14 and is im-paw-sibly cute to even imagine.

Beignets at Cafe du Monde

Beignets at Cafe du Monde | Flickr CC: T.Tseng

Enjoy beignets: New Orleans, LA

Ah, beignets. What’s not to love? The deep-fried, powdered sugar–dusted pastry, a version of which was brought to New Orleans by French colonists in the 18th century, is now a staple of Creole cuisine. At New Orleans’ popular Café du Monde, beignets aren’t so much dusted with powdered sugar as practically buried in it. Grab a plate of ’em and a cafe au lait, then head to NOLA’s large Bastille Day Fête July 14–15 at the New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park and other venues around town for live music, French language lessons, kids’ activities, French-inspiredfood trucks, another French dog contest(!), and more.

Featured image by: Monica Pedraja

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Laura Pearson

Laura Pearson

Laura is a travel-loving Chicago-based journalist who writes about art and culture. Follow her on Twitter at @tislaurapearson.

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