Bastille Day military parade

For other uses, see Bastille Day (disambiguation).
Bastille Day Military Parade

Official name Défilé du 14 juillet
Observed by  France
Celebrations Military parade
Date 14 July
Next time 14 July 2017 (2017-07-14)
Frequency annual
Related to Bastille Day

The Bastille Day Military Parade (or 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-Elysées from l'Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde where the President of the French Republic, his government and foreign ambassadors to France stand. This is a popular event in France, broadcast on French TV, and is one of the oldest regular military parades in the world.[1] 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 towns (such as Toulon, Brest or Belfort) with local troops.

Organisation and parade summary

The Military Parade occurs on the Champs-Élysées Avenue, from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, where French officials and foreign guests view the ceremony.
The 1st infantry regiment of the French Republican Guard.

As the President of France 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.

Since recent years the parade starts with military bands from the French Armed Forces taking stage with band exhibitions and drill shows, even including displays from foreign service troops and mounted units, and military and civil choirs and even singers singing classic French patriotic songs. This opening act ends with the playing of La Marseillaise, the National Anthem of France.

The parade opens with cadets from the military schools in order of seniority: the École Polytechnique, the Saint-Cyr, the École Navale, followed by newer academies. Competition between those schools often leaded 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 often "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.[2] 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, including the French 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 and it's the only regiment 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 much-cheered and popular Paris Fire Brigade (which is a military unit from 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 the popularly cheered parachute display by selected parachutists from the French Armed Forces. 2011's finale saw a gymnastic exhibition and fire truck demo from Paris Fire Brigade personnel.


Originally a popular feast, Bastille day became militarised during the Directory. Under Napoléon, the celebration lost much of its importance, though it came back into fashion during the Third Republic. The Fourteenth of July became the official national celebration on 28 June 1880, and a decree of 6 July the same year linked a military parade to it. Between 1880 and 1914 the celebrations were held at the Longchamp Racecourse in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris.

Since World War I the parade has been held on the Champs-Élysées, the first occasion being the défilé de la Victoire ("Victory parade") led by Marshals Joseph Joffre, Ferdinand Foch and Philippe Pétain on 14 July 1919. This was not however a French National Holiday parade, although held upon the same date, but one agreed upon by the Allied delegations to the Versailles Peace Conference. A separate Victory parade of Allied troops was held in London four days later.[3]

On the occasion of 14 July 1919 parade in Paris, detachments from all of France's World War I allies took part in the parade, together with colonial and North African units from France's overseas Empire.[4] The latter, most notably squadrons of Algerian Spahis mounted on Arab horses and in traditional full dress uniform, continued to participate in the annual parade until the end of the Algerian War in 1962.

In the Second World War, the German troops occupying Paris and Northern France paraded along the same route. A victory parade under General de Gaulle was held upon the restoration in 1945 of Paris to French rule while within the period of occupation by the Germans a company of the commando Kieffer of the Forces Navales Françaises Libres had continued the French National Holiday parade in the streets of London.

In 1971 female personnel were included for the first time amongst the troops parading.

Under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing the parade route was changed each year with troops marching down from the place de la Bastille to the place de la République to commemorate popular outbreaks of the French Revolution:[5]

Under presidents François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac the parade route returned to the Champs-Elysées where it continues to be held.

In 1994, troops of the Eurocorps, including German soldiers, paraded on the invitation of François Mitterrand. The event was seen as symbolic of both European integration, and German-French reconciliation.[6]

In 1999, for the "Year of Morocco" in France, the Morocco Royal Guard opened the parade, in the presence of King Hassan II of Morocco.

In 2002, the cadets of the United States Military Academy and surviving FDNY firefighters paraded.[7]

In 2004, British troops paraded to celebrate the centenary of the Entente cordiale. On an earlier occasion detachments of the British Brigade of Guards and Royal Marines had participated in the Bastille Day Parade of 14 July 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II.[8]

In 2005, "year of Brazil" in France, two Brazilian units opened the parade and the smoke squadron (a Brazilian air demonstration squadron) ended the fly-past in the presence of President Lula.

In 2007, president Nicolas Sarkozy invited all the 26 other EU member states to join the parade with a detachment of their armed services.[9]

2008's Bastille Day Parade saw a United Nations Security Council/Secretariat-DPKO battalion leading the parade march past from UNDOF, UNFICYP and UNIFIL.

In 2009, the parade opened with a contingent of Indian troops drawn from the three services (Indian Army, Indian Navy & Indian Air Force.[10] President Nicolas Sarkozy invited Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to attend the event as the guest of honour. Soldiers including Jawans of Maratha Light Infantry[11] Regiment Centre (MLIRC) marched down the Champs Elysees to the sound of an Indian military band playing Indian martial tunes including Saare Jahan Se Achcha, Haste Lushai and Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja.[12]

To celebrate 50 years of independence of the French African colonies, the 2010 parade saw troops from several former French African colonies' armed forces lead the parade.

The 2011 parade celebrated the French overseas possessions and the 200 years of the French firefighting service. That same year, former judge and Green politician Eva Joly called for an end to 14 July parade practice, saying that it should be replaced with a "citizens' parade".[13]

The 2012 parade was led by the Armed Forces units in Afghanistan (the Foreign Legion included), several NATO countries' armed forces, and France's UN peacekeeping units. A parachutist who took part in the parade's finale parachute display was injured and taken care of at once by the medical personnel, in front of everyone in attendance.

2013's parade saw troops from Mali (including members of the French-led multinational intervention force) and Croatia, the newest EU member, march past. The Hector Berlioz arrangement of the national anthem was played on this parade by the band of the Troupes de Marine (forming the medal of the National Order of Merit on the grounds of the Place de la Concorde together with civilian participants forming the ribbon) and the French Army Chorus with soloist Florian Laconi, honouring the golden jubilee of the foundation of the National Order of Merit.

To mark the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War, the 2014 parade started with a detachment of soldiers wearing the 1916 blue-grey French uniform which was followed by colour guards from the 69 other countries involved in the Great War aside from France itself. The motorised parade ended with a limber team carrying a 75mm field gun, immediately behind the mounted French Republican Guard Cavalry Regiment. The 2014 parade ended with a choreographic performance by José Montalvo.[14][15] The performance included 250 young dancers from the eighty countries which fought in the war; it took place on the Place de la Concorde.[14] The eight-minute performance to a clarinet concerto by Mozart included echoes to La Sardane de la paix and La Colombe, two paintings by Pablo Picasso, as well as Les Oiseaux by Georges Braque.[14] The dancers released doves at the end of the performance, a symbol of peace through strength after the military parade.[14] The national anthem and classic French patriotic songs La Madelon and Chant du départ were sung a cappella by the French Army Chorus during the pre-parade segment.

Bastille Day 2016 military parade in Paris

The 2015 edition, which had 250 less personnel due to domestic and international deployments of the French uniformed services, celebrated the 70th year since the end of the Second World War and the liberation of France from the Axis, as well as France's determination to fight all forms of terrorism. This parade saw the debut appearance of two special forces units of the French National Police and the GIGN from the National Gendarmerie, which had seen action during January's Charlie Hebdo shooting incident as well as cadets of the Heroic Military Academy, Heroic Naval School and the Air Force College from Mexico. In tribute to all the French fallen and veterans of the Second World War the Patrouille de France flew over the dais, in Cross of Lorraine formation. The pre-parade segment saw the French Navy Band forming the same formation together with the French Army Chorus, which sung Le Chant des Partisans a capella before singing the national anthem. In celebration of 70 years since the liberation of France and the end of the Second World War in Europe, these were joined by six recipients of the Order of Liberation, and colour guards of units that had been awarded with the order for their actions as part of the Free French forces.

The 2016 parade marked a massive jump in the number of participants with an astounding 5,800 taking part in the marchpast itself, including for the first time in years personnel from the French Prisons Service Directorate of the Ministry of Justice, given the rising French military and police actions within France and overseas (partly as a result of the November 2015 Paris attacks, as a tribute to the fallen of this and the fallen of the uniformed forces the Patrouille de France flew over the dais in a silhouette of the beloved Effel Tower, plus a 4,000 strong children's choir, decked in the national colours, sang the national anthem alongside the French Army Chorus as the grand finale). Marking the sudden increase and tighty anti-terror efforts were the marchpast of Armed Forces basic training institutions and personnel in counter-terrorist operations. In addition, to mark the 2016 national centennial of the events of the Battle of the Somme and the formation of the Lafayette Escadrille, marching on the parade were an ANZAC contingent from both the Australian Defence Force and the New Zealand Defence Force while several aircraft of the United States Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa - including one in the historical Lafayette Squadron colours - joined the flypast.

Composition of parade

The parade involves around 7,000 soldiers (5,000 on foot, the rest are crew members or cavalrymen), 300 vehicles, 240 horses and more than 80 planes and helicopters.[16][17][18] It is the biggest regular military parade in Western Europe.

March past in slow and quick time

Each year, the French Foreign Legion commemorates and celebrates Camarón in its headquarters in Aubagne and Bastille Day military parade in Paris; featuring the Pionniers leading and opening the way.

Mounted column

Mobile column

Aerial flypast column


Infantry parade

Motorized parade

Air parade

Local parades

Foreign guests


  1. French diplomatic mission in San Francisco The Trooping of the Colour or Queen's Birthday Parade in London has been held regularly since 1820: Archived 15 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. London 'Peace Parade' 19 July 1919 Archived 11 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 12 August 2010
  4. pages 50–51 "To Lose a Battle – France 1940, ISBN 0-333-53601-0
  5. Archived 5 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. Archived 16 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. NYC firemen at Bastille parade CNN 14 July 2002
  8. page181 "The Illustrated London News – Marching to War 1933–39", ISBN 1-85170-265-2
  9. Join the parade, Sarkozy tells EU armies, The Daily Telegraph, 8 June 2007
  10. Défilé 14 juillet 2009 – Armée indienne. YouTube. 15 July 2009.
  11. Indian army open the military march down the Champs Elysees. YouTube. 17 July 2009.
  12. Répétition de l'Armée Indienne à Satory pour le défilé du 14 juillet 2009. YouTube. 13 July 2009.
  13. Eva Joly propose la suppression du défilé militaire du 14 YouTube. 14 July 2011.
  14. 1 2 3 4 Rosita Boisseau, José Montalvo, 250 jeunes, autant de colombes en clôture du défilé du 14 juillet, Le Monde, 13 July 2014
  15. 14 juillet: défilé du Centenaire sur les Champs Elysées, Libération, 14 July 2014
  16. "Afghanistan: Sarkozy veut revoir les conditions de sécurité". L'Express.
  17. "14-Juillet: l'Outre-mer à l'honneur". Le Figaro.
  18. "France Overseas territories to stage Haka at Bastille Day parade". France 24.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bastille Day military parades.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/17/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.