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Fête Nationale gets under way

A parade down the Champs Elysées, lead by hundreds of Indian soldiers, marks the start of France's national holiday

13 July 2009

INDIA is the guest of honour at this year’s celebrations for France’s Fête Nationale – the traditional procession on the Champs Elysées will be lead by 450 Indian soldiers in full dress, accompanied by the music of their military band.

Although there will be much celebration and fireworks being let off across the country today, Paris will see the largest celebrations, which kick off around 10.30am with a fly-over involving nearly 100 aircraft.

Following this display, the parade, which will be shown on television, sets off along the Champs Elysées, which will be decorated with flags. President Sarkozy will be in attendance.

The Indian soldiers will be followed by some 4,000 servicemen and women from the French navy and air force, with 241 horses and 298 vehicles.

At the end of the parade, the cavalry regiment of the Republican Guard will officially close the ceremony.

Later on, all eyes will be turned towards the Eiffel Tower for what promises to be another spectacular Bastille Day fireworks display.

In recognition of the Eiffel Tower’s 120th anniversary, the fireworks should prove particularly memorable. They have been masterminded by the same team behind Paris’ millennium celebrations.

The public is also invited to a free concert this evening, taking place on the Champ de Mars, where Johnny Hallyday will be performing.

Another Bastille Day tradition in France will see fire stations host balls around France.

Photo:Irene Tong

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