Every day when I’m walking around the city, I try to eavesdrop on all the French people I overhear; it’s my little way of keeping my language skills sharp. I was a French major in college, but ever since graduation, whatever bit of je ne sais quoi I gleaned from 10 years of learning the language has left my brain the way air leaves a soufflé: slowly, and then all at once. Au revoir, I suppose. But I still get really excited every year around Bastille Day, which happens to be this Friday, July 14. There are tons of things to do in New York to celebrate the holiday—and you don’t even have to be dressed like a French girl to get in on the fun. In fact, let them do their thing in France. Here’s how to celebrate Bastille Day like a New Yorker.
Take a Bastille Day Cruise: This Friday night from 7 to 11 p.m., wear your finest red, white, and blue aboard a mega-yacht for the Bastille Day Cruise, hosted by French Tuesdays. The afterparty is at the Americano at Hotel Americano, so you can make a night of it if you’re feeling particularly Parisienne.
Enjoy French Restaurant Week: French Restaurant Week officially ends on July 16 so you’ve still got time to get your steak frites fix. More than 40 restaurants in the tri-state area are participating, and you can choose from three different prix-fixe menus for all price points—$18, $38, and $179. Bon appetit.
Head to Harlem: Just a few months ago, the New York Times ran a feature about Harlem’s French renaissance and the significant French community in the neighborhood, so you know there will be fun stuff going on uptown. Newish French spot RDV is having a three-day celebration beginning on Friday when it will debut a new cocktail during happy hour, the RDV Spritz, and offer one complimentary glass of champagne per customer with dinner. Its celebration continues through the weekend with live music at brunch and macaron gifts from its sister café, Cafeine. Uptown staple Maison Harlem is shutting down its entire block on Sunday for a Bastille Day Block party from noon until 7 p.m. There will be food from the restaurant, music, shopping, crepes, and more.
Get Your Rosé On: What better time to celebrate everyone’s favorite summer beverage than Bastille Day weekend? If you’re in Southampton, don’t miss La Nuit en Rosé, a two-day celebration of summer water and food at OREYA. Grab your best millennial pink look, and get ready for a five-course dinner under the stars on Friday night and a rosé pool party on Saturday. Marie Antoinette would surely approve. Tickets required—get them here.
Play Pétanque: Get competitive and enter a team into one of the pétanque competitions going on around town. Pétanque is a lawn game from Provence that’s similar to bocce ball—and it’s a great opportunity to hang outside with a cocktail. Bar Tabac in Boerum Hill is hosting the largest pétanque tournament in North America during the fifteenth year of its all-day Bastille Day celebration on Sunday, July 16. Come for the tourney, and stay for the live music, food, drinks, and a chance to win a trip to France. Manhattanites can head to Cafe du Soleil on the Upper West Side for a pétanque tournament on the restaurant’s sand beach terrace plus special food and drink deals. Bonne chance.
Celebrate at Le District: Downtown at Brookfield Place, French food hall Le District is celebrating on Friday with extended happy hour, cocktail specials, and live music. If you’re ready to celebrate right now, you’re in luck: The Paris American Club is co-hosting a pre–Bastille Day celebratory event at Le District tonight from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (purchase tickets in advance here).