Bastille Day in Montpellier: special bus = fireworks

Le 14 juillet, don’t say Bastille Day as nobody will know what you mean, is probably the biggest jour férier in the French calendar. You shouldn’t expect much to be open in Montpellier on this day and, like Christmas Day and New Years Eve, flights may be cheaper.

If you do plan to stick around for the celebrations you won’t be disappointed as there are many different events that take place all over the city. Our favourite and probably most random is the feu d’artifice (firework) display at the Grammont.

CC image courtesy of LZdR on Flikr

Let me explain. My first 14 juillet was spent at the Shakespeare’s bilingual pub quiz which happens every Tuesday night from 9pm. I’d arrived earlier that day on a very early flight from Luton so had been awake for about 30 hours. Consequently, I don’t remember very much about it.

My second year is a completely different story. As a lover of fireworks, and knowing there would be plenty, I began to look around for displays. The best, I have heard, is at La Grand Motte at the beach, but we had no transport to get there. I trawled the internet looking for public transport options and found that a fleet of “special” buses would be stationed at Place de L’Europe. It wasn’t clear where these free buses would end up, but we decided to give it a shot.

Once on the bus, we soon realised that we weren’t heading towards the beach. The final destination was, what can only really be described as a car park next to Zenith Sud, the huge concert venue south of the city. Fairground style attractions, a buvette (bar) and toilets were awaiting us along with thousands of people enjoying food and drinks that they had bought with them. Bearing in mind that this was around 11pm (they have to wait until the sun goes down before letting off the fireworks) some of the crowd were a little worse for wear. The atmosphere was electric and not really knowing what to expect just made it all the better.

I probably shouldn’t be ruining your experience by telling you too much so I’ll stop there. Needless to say, pack yourself up with apéro and get on a “special” bus. You won’t be disappointed. Do be prepared to use your elbows on the way back though, but then if you’ve used any of the public transport options available in Montpellier, you will be used to this.

Good luck!

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