Bastille Day (July 14th) is officially known as "La Fete National." Not only does it celebrate the storming of the fortress prison at the start of the French Revolution, but it also symbolizes the unity of the French nation. This has become the oldest and largest military parade in Europe. Since we were going to be in Paris on this special day, we knew that we had to experience Bastille Day events. The day before the celebration took place, we explored La Place de La Concorde (where 2700 French men and women were guillotined during the French Revolution) and the famous Champs Elysees, down to L'Arc de Triumph. The "just right" place to view the parade had to be found. Of course, we also knew that getting there early would be the only way to secure a prime viewing spot. This being the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Sommes ( the largest and bloodiest of World War I), members of the the Australian and New Zealand armies (including Maori warriors) were invited to attend, as units from these two armies fought along side the French. What a spectacle!
Most of the parade would pass L'Arc de Triumphe.
While we were exploring the Champs Elysee for a "perfect" viewing spot, we met the members of the Pescado Bicycle Club from the United Kingdom. A very convivial group.
The French Air Force added some color to the festivities.
No military parade would be complete without a "few" tanks and armored personnel carriers.
Some of the dress uniforms were quite splendid looking...
I don't think we saw one smiling face in the whole parade...
...especially not among the Maori warriors. We had seen videos of these New Zealanders performing various ritual ceremonies, but to see them in person was a whole different ball game.
We had never seen this before in any parade: a whole unit of predatory birds. It was quite a sight!
The French also acknowledged the work of the national police forces...
...and the K-9 corps.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.