La Fête Nationale on 14 July – French National Day – is the July 4th of France. Time for food and fireworks! The display at La Cité is the grandest in France after the one in Paris at the Eiffel Tower. Something like 500,000 – 700,000 spectators converge on Carcassonne each year.

Two years ago, we camped out in a Carcassonne park for prime viewing. Here’s our blog post from then.

Last year, we stayed at home and watched from afar. From our terrace we can see the silhouette of La Cité, over which the fireworks explode. La Cité is about 10 km away, so the play of the fireworks is a pleasant shimmer in the distant. It was fun to be outside at home, glasses of rosé in hand, squinting at the lights near the horizon. But they were awfully far away, and quiet. The delight of fireworks is the noise and being dwarfed by the light flowers overhead.

Our strategy this year: A new hotel opened up since last year’s festivities, just across the Aude River from La Cité. We booked a room, and reserved places at dinner.

You can see the splendid view of La Cité from the hotel courtyard. The moon rose over the citadel as the sun set.

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We ate outside; the evening was warm but not hot, and the breeze was gentle: Perfect! The French tri-couleur dressed the table. A little local red wine to celebrate.

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Our fellow diners as we waited for night to fall…

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At last, thirty minutes of splendid fireworks over, on and around La Cité. Our vantage was superb, relaxed and comfortable. Now, what shall we do next year?

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