Where to Celebrate Bastille Day in New York City

by Jessica Klein on Jul 8, 2014 in Roundups

On July 14, 1789, a crowd representing France’s common people famously stormed the Bastille, a fortress and jail that held political prisoners and plenty of gunpowder. Today, the US, and New York City in particular, celebrates this French national holiday perhaps in the style of “common people”—by holding various outdoor parties open to the public and consuming plenty of champagnes and wines from France’s renowned vineyards. If you’re looking to indulge and/or observe the landmark that spurred on the tumultuous French Revolution, here are NYC’s Bastille Day offerings. 

French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) Wine Tastings (22 East 60th Street; 212-355-6100)
What better way to celebrate a French national holiday than with wine? Thanks to some of New York’s best sommeliers, Le Skyroom offers up a variety of wines to taste and hors d’oeuvres to eat from city restaurant Le Cirque. Tastings will take place prior to Bastille Day on Sunday, July 13, at 12:30pm and 3pm, with 25 different wines on the table. From champagnes like Pommery Brut Royal to five types of rosé and numerous reds from Bordeaux, this tasting is not to be missed (if you can easily cough up the $95 for FIAF members or the $115 for non-members required to join).

Bastille Day on 60th Street (60th Street between 5th and Lexington Avenues)
If you’re aiming for something that allows “fun for the whole family” and involves potentially zero cash, join the outdoor festival of Sunday, July 13 on 60th Street between noon and 5pm. French classics (or, more likely, their Americanized versions) like crêpes and éclairs will be available alongside live music, crafts, lotteries that promise French vacations for a lucky few, and, of course, wine and beer selections to keep party-goers from getting parched.

Artisanal Bistro for French Restaurant Week (2 Park Avenue; 212-725-8585)
Bastille Day also marks another important landmark in NYC this year: French restaurant week, which runs from July 7 to Bastille Day itself. One eatery that particularly stands out for its wine pairings is Artisanal Bistro on Park Avenue. Carrying around 75 wines (and even more cheeses), this bistro offers oyster or pate accompaniments to fine wines for under $18 a person. This means Muscadet Sur Lie, De Quatre Routes from the Loire Valley in 2012 with half a dozen oysters or a 2011 Bourgogne La Fôret to go with a serving of pate.

Bastille Day Party and Petanque Tournament on Smith Street (Smith Street, Brooklyn; 718-923-0918)
Between 12pm and 8pm this Sunday, July 13, Smith Street will be hosting a petanque tournament—a game that more or less amounts to a cross between bocce and horseshoes. Smith Street vendors will otherwise cater this celebration aimed towards former citizens of France, including Bar Tabac, which will provide the party’s aperitifs (like an Aperol Spritz or something called an “Ole Smoky Peach Tree” which pretty much begs to be tasted).

Bastille Day Ball at Club 404 (404 10th Ave.; 212-290-2665)
$30 tickets will get you general admission to this fête, which features performances from a live band/orchestra and a DJ later on in the evening. Hosted by the Committee of French-Speaking Societies on Friday, July 11, from 6pm to 1am, the ball seems to cater to a rather dignified crowd (but still serves wine in plastic cups at a cash bar throughout the evening).

Brasserie 8 ½ for French Restaurant Week (9 West 57th Street; 212-829-0812)
Another standout amongst this special restaurant week’s French offerings, the decadent atmosphere and impressive menu at this brasserie is only outdone by its wine selection, which boasts several exceptional offerings to go with the affordable pate and steak offered this week. Wines by the glass available for restaurant week prices include 2011 Chablis and a 2012 Cotes du Rhone, Chateau D’Aigueville.

Photo: Courtesy of French Institute Alliance Française


Tags: Beer, Cocktails, Holiday, Outdoor Seating, Parties, Spirits, Wine
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