Every year, France commemorates its national holiday, Bastille Day, with a resplendent military parade along the famed Champs-Elysées avenue in Paris. On the morning of Friday, July 14, 2023, both local and international spectators are set to experience this much-anticipated event. Last year's parade witnessed a spectacle of 6,300 foot soldiers, 71 aircraft, 25 helicopters, 221 vehicles, and 200 horses from the Republican Guard marching down the world's most beautiful avenue.
Tracing the Roots of Bastille Day
Bastille Day, celebrated every 14th of July, has a deep-seated history dating back to the French Revolution. The holiday marks the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, a pivotal event in France's fight against the monarchy. It wasn't until almost a century later, though, that July 14 was declared a national holiday in France.
"Sharing the Flame" and Honoring Allies
The 2023 military parade in Paris is set to showcase more than a stunning display of France's military might. Last year, under the theme "Sharing the Flame", the event paid homage to both the flame of the Resistance, represented by Hubert Germain, the last Companion of the Liberation who passed away in October 2021, and the Olympic Flame, in anticipation of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
This year, the military governor of Paris, General Christophe Abad, disclosed during a press conference that the 2023 parade will emphasize "our attachment to strategic solidarity with our allies". As such, 15 of France's allies in the Sahel military intervention, with India as the guest of honor, will be commemorated.
The 70th anniversary of the Patrouille de France, the French aerobatics demonstration unit, is marked with a customary appearance, trailed by foreign aircraft including the British Typhoon, the Belgian F-16, and the Indian Rafale. For the first time, the Serval light armored vehicle will participate in the parade.
The parade concludes at Place de la Concorde, where young reservists from the Universal National Service (SNU) and civic service programs will pay homage to the Resistance. They will commemorate the creation of the French Resistance Medal, the death of Jean Moulin, the establishment of the National Council of the Resistance, and the creation of the "Chant des partisans".
A Glimpse at the Day's Timeline
The event kicks off at 9:30 am with the deployment of foot and motorized troops on the Étoile/Champs-Élysées site, followed by inspections by commanding general officers. The President of the Republic arrives at 10:00 am, with honors paid at Place de la Concorde by the Republican Guard's 1st and 2nd infantry regiments.
The parade commences at 10:33 am, featuring an array of international military music, air and foot parades, and a tribute to the guest nation, India. The parade rounds off with a final commemoration of the 80 years of the Resistance medal at 11.51 am, and the departure of the President of the Republic at 12.05 pm.
New Additions to the Tradition
In an exciting first, an international orchestra with 80 French musicians and 13 from partner countries like Canada and Germany will perform during the parade. Other first-time participants include military engineers and a battalion of over 200 top athletes from Joinville (Haute-Marne, Grand-Est), making this year's Bastille Day celebrations a unique fusion of French national heritage and international solidarity.