France celebrated Bastille Day Tuesday with a massive military parade down Paris’s majestic Champs Elysee followed by concerts, fireworks and garden parties as the country marks the 1789 storming of the infamous Bastille prison that marked the start of the French Revolution.
The main feature of the day was a huge military parade involving 5,000 men, about 300 military vehicles, 83 motorbikes, 280 horses, 68 planes and 37 helicopters, according to French officials. The parade moved down the Champs Elysees, from the capital’s landmark Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde.
“A proud day for India”
This year the Indian military marched for the first time on the Champs Elysees, where 400 of its soldiers took part in the march under the watchful eyes of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
India, the guest of honour for this year’s parade, sent three battalions.
In uniforms continuing traditions of the former British Empire, they marched to tunes “less militaristic” than those used by the French soldiers.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the guest of honour at the 2008 military parade that commemorated the founding of the Indian republic in New Delhi.
“It is a proud day for India as our troops will march in a country where they fought during World War I,” defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar told AFP as the contingent left last week on two Airbus planes sent by France.
Thousands on Indian troops died in Europe in World War 1. Indian soldiers under British command were part of two Allied divisions that fought the Germans around the northern French town of Neuve-Chapelle in 1915.