Voices From Russia, Too

Friday, 15 July 2011

15 July 2011. VOR Presents… France Marks «la Fête Nationale Française/le Quatorze Juillet» (Bastille Day)

On 14 July, France celebrates its most important national holiday… Bastille Day. {Only Anglophone sources employ the usage “Bastille Day”… in Francophone circles, it’s simply “the French National Holiday”, or, “the 14th of July”: Editor}

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On 14 July 1789, Parisian sans-culottes stormed, and later burned to the ground, the hated Bastille fortress, which the royal government had long used as a prison… ironically, it only held seven prisoners at the time.

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The resolution formalising the actual day of celebration of the beginning of the French Revolution was made almost 140 years ago, on 6 July 1880.

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In the presence of President Nicolas Sarkozy, cabinet ministers, and numerous official guests, a military parade rumbled past on the Avenue des Champs Élysées, some 7,000 soldiers, along with 300 AFVs and artillery pieces, passed in review. {The 14th of July Parade is the largest military parade in Western Europe, the equal of the Russian Victory Day extravaganza… yet, the Western press condemns the Russian affair and praises the French march-past… go figure…: Editor}

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For the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic, some of the units in the parade on the Champs Élysées sang their marching songs. Previously, only la Légion étrangère (Foreign Legion) units did so.

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In the skies over Paris, aircraft and helicopters of military aviation flew past. As in years past, French units returning from ”hot spots”, particularly Afghanistan and Côte d’Ivoire, marched past for presidential review.

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Planners expect that 700,000 people will gather for a large concert on the Champ de Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower.

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In recent years, the parades have become a centrepiece of the national holiday. The current parade, on the 222nd anniversary of the fall of the Bastille, on the orders of the President of France, was devoted to units stationed in French overseas territories, which are, according to President Sarkozy, “the most important component in protecting the sovereignty of France”.

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However, losses suffered by French forces in Afghanistan overshadowed this year’s holiday, where a bomb explosion killed five soldiers and wounded four others. Before the parade, French President Sarkozy visited seriously wounded soldiers in a hospital near Paris.

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As in past years, the Parisian parade used a “red” level plan to combat potential terrorist threats. To ensure order and security, some 15,000 police, gendarmerie, and soldiers patrolled the city. On the other hand, the French Defence Ministry had to abandon plans to use unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles to monitor the situation in the area of ​​the parade as they were was rushed to military units engaged in military operations in Libya.

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During the 14th of July Holiday, the Office of National Landmarks will provide free access for 24 hours to all sites under its control to all comers, so that people will be able to hold “republican picnics”. As per tradition, the Paris City government Paris intends broadcasting the fireworks display live over the Internet. Last year, so many people tried to log onto the site at once in order to see this spectacle that it crashed for the first few minutes.

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14 July 2011

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/photoalbum/53233137/53233148/

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