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France celebrates July 14 with Paris military display

France is celebrating its Fête Nationale today (July 14), with commemorative events in Paris including a military parade and flypast in front of President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders.

The theme of the events for the day - sometimes also known as “Bastille Day” in reference to the anniversary of the French Revolution storming of the Bastille - is centred on “innovation and diplomacy”.

The parade will include 4,298 men and women, alongside 270 horseback riders, and 67 planes. There will also be a Flyboard Air (a French-made jet-powered hoverboard), along with military drones and robots, created “for the war of tomorrow”.

President Macron will then host a lunch at the Élysée Palace, with invitees including the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Events will kick off in Paris at around 10h, with the opening display starting with a demonstration of robots, drones, exoskeletons and the Flyboard Air, beginning at Place de la Concorde. A big screen will showcase new military innovations in space, air, land, sea, and online.


A flypast over the Champs-Élysées will then take place, including patrol jets and other military aircraft from Spain and Germany, intended to demonstrate cooperation between European defence.

This will be followed by a parade of soldiers, with French personnel joined by representatives from the UK, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Estonia, Spain, Portugal and Finland, in a deliberate show of “strategic cultural partnership” from President Macron.

Helicopters will then fly overhead, including two British Chinooks. The UK is currently supporting French special forces with three Chinooks in the Sahel in Mali, and will continue to do so until at least 2020.

The display will close out with an homage to military personnel injured or fallen in the French forces, as well as those in the emergency services who help to support them during a campaign.

The national anthem, La Marseillaise, will then play as young people from the Service National Universel (SNU) carry the French tricolore flag.

President Macron will then head back to Élysée Palace for lunch with many other European leaders. These are set to include Ms Merkel, Finnish president Sauli Niinistö, Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid; along with the prime ministers of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, and Belgium Charles Michel.

Mr Juncker will also be there, as well as the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and the ministers of defence for Spain, Margarita Robles, and Denmark, Trine Bramsen. David Lidington, cabinet office minister and "de facto" UK deputy Prime Minister, will represent Britain instead of Prime Minister Theresa May.

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