The ‘14 juillet‘, or ‘Bastille Day’ to the non-French, is the national day of celebration in France, and nowhere does it quite like Paris! The Champs-Élysées hosts the oldest, and largest, military parade in Europe, so this year I went along to watch!
The 14 juillet celebrations commemorate the day when, back in 1789, the Bastille prison was stormed, thus informally marking the beginning of the French Revolution. On 14th July the following year, the Fête de la Fédération was held, celebrating the Revolution, and also national unity. The modern day 14 juillet celebrates this too.
The parade, or défilé, often welcomes foreign guests to bear witness to France’s military personnel. This year, to mark the 100th anniversary of the USA joining the First World War, Donald Trump was the guest of honour. I didn’t see him, but I did see the Président de la République, Emmanuel Macron, which, in my opinion, was by far the better deal.
The swift passing-by of the Président is followed by a fly-over by the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force), in a sort-of ‘Red-Arrows-esque’ display of bleu, blanc, et rouge.
Following the troops on foot were the military vehicles, which were enormous, and then the French Cavalry. Le 14 juillet is such a fantastic celebration of all things French, and such a huge amount of security makes the whole day and event feel very safe! Top tip though: arrive very early to get a good spot, and head down to Place de la Concorde to get the best views of the Président and his assembled posse. I really want to come back next year if my timetable allows! Now all that’s left to say is:
Vive la République! Vive la France!