Bastille Day

Bastille Day Parade 2020

The Bastille Day military parade, also known as the 14 July military parade, translation of the French name of Défilé militaire du 14 juillet, is a French military parade that has been held on the morning of 14 July each year in Paris since 1880, almost without exception. The parade passes down the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde where the President of the French Republic, his government and foreign ambassadors to France stand.


It is a popular

event in France, broadcast live on television; it is also one of the oldest regular military parades in the world.In some years, invited detachments of foreign troops take part in the parade and foreign statesmen attend as guests. Smaller military parades are held in French garrison cities (most notably Marseille, Toulon, Brest, Rochefort and Belfort).


As the President of the French Republic arrives via a convoy of the Republican Guard to the Arc de Triomphe, he is greeted by the parade commander, who informs him that the parade is now ready for inspection. He then rides the Chief of Defense Staff’s vehicle to inspect the troops on the Champs-Elysées escorted by troopers and officers of the Republican Guard’s cavalry regiment and its mounted band, waving on the crowds lining up on the boulevard. After he disembarks from the vehicle he finishes the inspection through one done for the Republican Guard Infantry units, then walks to the stage on the Place de la Concorde to meet the dignitaries present.

In recent years the parade has started with military bands from the French Armed Forces taking the stage with band exhibitions and drill shows, sometimes including displays from foreign service troops and mounted units; plus military and civil choirs singing classic French patriotic songs. This opening ends with the playing of La Marseillaise, the National Anthem of France.

1st infantry regiment of the Republican Guard

The parade opens with cadets from the military schools in order of seniority: the École Polytechnique, the Saint-Cyr and the École Navale, followed by newer academies. Competition between those schools often led to some practical pranks: Polytechnique is a highly selective engineer school (considered as the most difficult in the country) whose students reverse most of the time to civilian occupation while Saint Cyr is a professional officer school. As a consequence students from the first have occasionally “mined” the path for their colleagues using sticky or slippery products.

The Patrouille de France leads the fly-past of the French Air Force and Naval Aviation.

Recently, it has become customary to invite units from France’s close allies to participate in the parade. For instance, in 2004, to mark the centenary of the Entente Cordiale, British troops (the band of the Royal Marines, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, Grenadier Guards and King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery) led the Bastille Day parade in Paris, with the Red Arrows flying overhead. While British troops had participated in the Bastille Day parades of 14 July 1919 and 1939 (see below), this was the first occasion that invited foreign troops had actually led the parade. In 2007, the parade opened with detachments from all member states of the European Union, flying the European flag. The European anthem was played.

The parade follows with foot soldiers: army infantry; troupes de Marine; Air; Gendarmerie Nationale, including the Republican Guard; and occasionally non-military police and fire units. The French Foreign Legion always brings up the rear of this part of the parade, because their ceremonial marching pace is slower than that of other French infantry units. It is the only participant that does not split up when passing by the officials and the army headquarters’ tribune.

Motorised and armoured troops come next, and the parade traditionally ends with the popular Paris Fire Brigade (which is a military unit in the French Army). At the same time, above the Champs-Elysées, the flypast continues with French Air Force and Naval Air Force planes and helicopters, and aircraft from the National Gendarmerie, the Interior Ministry’s Civil Security Air Service and the various fire-fighting units nationwide. The parade ends with a parachute display by selected parachutists from the French Armed Forces. 2011’s finale saw a gymnastic exhibition and fire truck demonstration by Paris Fire Brigade personnel.

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Bastille Day military parade marking its national day will be replaced by a ceremony on the Place de la Concorde square in central Paris, President Emmanuel Macron’s office said on Thursday.

The ceremony, which will include the traditional fly-over by the French air force, will honour the military’s participation in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic as well as frontline health care workers, the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

Bastille Day aka France’s National Day on July 14 is traditionally celebrated with a military parade on the Champs-Elysées. But amid the coronavirus pandemic and gatherings still limited in France, the parade is replaced by a very private ceremony at the Place de la Concorde on Thursday July 14, 2020.

July 14, 2020 for Bastille Day will take place without the traditional parade on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. This is what the Elysée announced this Thursday June 4, 2020. As a matter of fact, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the French government goes for a ceremony at the Place de la Concorde.

In the current health context, as gatherings over 5,000 people are still banned in the country, the government considers celebrating Bastille Day with a very special ceremony. Held at the Place de la Concorde, the event is expected to bring “2000 participants and about 2,500 guests” with strict respect of the “social distancing rules” the Elysée says.

The definitive program has not been presented yet by the Minister of the Armed Forces, but we already know the July 14’s ceremony will pay tribute to caregivers. If this year, military will not parade on the Champs-Elysées from the Arc de Triomphe down to the Place de la Concorde, as they are used to, the air parade in the Parisian sky seems to be sustained.

As of today, the ceremony is not said to open to the public, but the Elysée says “the situation will be re-assessed by July 14”, depending on the evolution of the health crisis in the next weeks.

Few military pageants worldwide rival France’s Bastille Day parade. Here are 22 pictures of this year’s show.
The day began with troops, tanks and assault vehicles lining up in preparation by the Arc de Triomphe.

Philippe Lopez / AFP

Ludovic Marin/AFP

Ludovic Marin/AFP

Members of the French Republican Guard (Garde Republicaine) expertly kept their horses under control as they waited for the parade to begin. 

Phillipe Lopez/AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron then joined French Armies Chief Staff General Francois Lecointre in an Acmat VLRA vehicle as the two reviewed the troops before the start of the Bastille Day military parade.

Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP
French Mounted Republican guards were among the first soldiers to parade down the Champs-Elysées avenue.

Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

German chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, French President Emmanuel Macron and other heads of state watched an infantry exercise from seats on the side of Champs Elysées.

Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

Zapata CEO Franky Zapata flew a jet-powered hoverboard or “Flyboard” prior to the Bastille Day military parade down the Champs-Elysées avenue in Paris.

Lionel Bonaventure/AFP
Portuguese and Dutch soldiers took part in the parade, as did the armed forces of several other nations.

Alain Jocard/AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron greeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel after surveying the troops.

Kamil Zihnioglu / POOL / AFP

France’s elite acrobatic flying team “Patrouille de France” (PAF) performed a flying display over Paris during the parade.
Lionel Bonaventure/AFP
Photo: Local reader @Clickchiyaaon
The French Foreign Legion’s ceremonial Pioneers were an eye-catching sight with their traditional buffalo leather aprons and full beards and polished axes.
Two yellow vest protesters, both women, were surrounded and escorted from the site of the parade by French gendarmes.

Phillipe Lopez/AFP

The mounted Republican Guards, with their sabres and ceremonial uniform, were popular with spectators.

Alain Jocard/AFP

A French Char Leclerc tank took part in the parade.

Ludovic Marin/AFP

A drone mounted on the back of a pick-up.

Ludovic Marin/AFP

Members of the civic service and the universal national service SNU (Service National Universel) held a giant French flag.

Ludovic Marin/AFP

Armoured cars trundled down the Champs Elysées.

Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

More pictures of the Pioneers.

Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

A French Airbus A330 Phenix flew over the parade, followed by two French Mirage 2000-5 airplanes and four French Rafale airplanes.
Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP
And in a reminder of the continuing importance of France’s military alliance with Britain, a CH47 Chinook helicopter also flew over the parade.

Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP

After the parade was complete, a beaming Emmanuel Macron waved to the crowd before he was driven away.

Ludovic Marin/ POOL/AFP

Photo: Local reader @Clickchiyaaon

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