Today was a holiday here in France, so it was super exciting! The fête nationale, or national holiday, is on the 14th of July – what Americans insist on calling “Bastille Day”. (Pro tip: the French never call it Bastille Day and in fact, some people here rather dislike that name. If you want to fit in, call it “le 14 juillet” – the 14th of July.)

We started off the day…watching TV? Yup, the main show in the morning is the huge military parade in Paris. Since we aren’t in Paris, we did the next best thing and watched the broadcast!

The local version, starting basically as soon as the official parade finished, wasn’t a parade at all. It was a couple of tents in the huge park next to the lake. But it did involve a live band and local veterans being honored in their dress uniforms, so it was pretty cool to be a part of!

After that, though, the party gets put on hold until that night, so we had a few hours to do whatever. First we climbed one of the foothills to visit this place: the Château d’Annecy. Built in the 1100s, this renovated castle has been all kinds of things in its life – a private home, a military barracks, a museum, even a scientific observatory!

No pictures inside, sorry, but check out the courtyard!

Then we visited the Saint Maurice church back in the city center. It was a very small, plain church, but we were still struck by the soaring gothic arches and the beautiful stained glass windows!

The best picture I could get of the windows. It was so bright outside, most of the colors got washed out 😦 But you can get an idea of what they look like at least!

After a fairly quick dinner, it was time to head back to the park. Despite the on-and-off drizzle, they were setting up all kinds of cool things to do! Free concerts had been playing in the park for a good chunk off the day already and will continue long into tonight, so the city set up dance floors like this one for purple too dance on if they wanted to!

No time for us to dance – we had a boat to catch! First we toured the lake, getting a good view of the numerous villages, mountains, and historical landmarks in the area.

It slowly got darker…

Until it was finally time for the fireworks! The main draw of any 14th of July party, the show here is over the lake for both extra wow factor and the easy cleanup. They even had specialty fireworks in different shapes like hearts and smilie faces!

This red, white, and blue one was a real crowd-pleaser! (Yes, those are the French national colors as well! The stripes in the firework match the pattern on the French flag.)

What an awesome way to end the day!

Our comments winner for today is…Abby R! Congratulations Abby! Tomorrow we are in Annecy in the morning and Lyon in the afternoon. It’s a fairly short train ride though so never fear, we shouldn’t lose much time at all!