PARIS: France celebrated Bastille Day on Saturday with a colourful military parade in Paris presided by President Emmanuel Macron, and hoped the party would continue on Sunday when the national soccer team meets Croatia in the World Cup final in Russia.
Standing on a military vehicle flanked by motorcycle escorts and led by a cavalry procession, Macron rode down the Champs Elysees, Paris’s most famous boulevard, for his second July 14 parade, cheered by hundreds of spectators.
Bastille Day commemorates the storming of a prison in 1789, a key event in the French Revolution.
After US President Donald Trump in 2017, Macron this year invited the leaders of Japan and Singapore, two Asian nations with a long-standing strategic partnership with France.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who cancelled to deal with deadly floods at home, was represented by Foreign Minister Taro Kono.
The more than two-hour parade, with some 4,200 soldiers, 220 vehicles and around 100 aircraft, saw Japanese and Singaporean soldiers take part as guests of honour.
There were two glitches, though, as two motorcycles collided during a demonstration in front of guests, while an Alpha jet from the Air Force Patrouille de France acrobatic unit released a wrong colour for the French flag during a formation flight.
France has mobilized around 110,000 security staff for the Bastille Day festivities and World Cup soccer final.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets, from Paris to the smallest of villages, and the celebrations are likely to continue long into Sunday night if France lifts the World Cup for the second time.
“Perhaps it will be us marching on the Champs Elysees tomorrow, we hope,” said Philippe on BFM Television, who travelled to Paris to watch the military parade and plans to return on Sunday to celebrate if France wins.