Parade of July 14, 2023: what is the program on the Champs-Elysées?


Parade of July 14, 2023: what is the program on the Champs-Elysées?

PARADE JULY 14. This Friday, the famous military parade which takes place in the morning on the Champs-Elysées on the occasion of the National Day will be opened by the Indian armed forces. Discover the process in detail with the timetables.

[Updated on July 12, 2023 at 2:07 p.m.] The great military parade on July 14, 2023, on the occasion of the National Day, will bring together on the most beautiful avenue in the world nearly 6,500 participants, including 5,100 people on foot, 60 planes, 28 helicopters, 157 vehicles, 62 motorcycles and 200 Republican Guard horses. The parade on foot will be opened by 269 members of Indian Armed Forces. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, guest of honor, will attend the parade with the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron.

On the theme of "moral forces", the military ceremony will pay tribute to the 15 countries that have helped France during a decade of military engagement in the Sahel: Americans, Canadians and Europeans. In addition, students from 6 partner African military schools (Benin, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Guinea, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Senegal) will also be honoured, marching with residents of French military schools. In the evening, many fireworks will close the festivities, including the Champ-de-Mars fireworks display at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

The parade of July 14 welcomes from 10 a.m. to noon, from the Place de l'Etoile to the Place de la Concorde, soldiers, planes, helicopters, vehicles and horses of the Republican Guard.

After July 14, 1880, the military parade became an institution. On July 14, 1919, Marshals Foch, Joffre and Pétain paraded on horseback on the Champs-Elysées - even passing under the Arc de Triomphe - to celebrate the victory in the First World War acquired a few months earlier. It is at this time that the traditional July 14 parade takes up residence on the most famous avenue in Paris. After an eclipse during the Second World War, the July 14 parade took on its present appearance with the proliferation of tanks and planes. Some Presidents of the Republic, however, bring short-lived innovations.

During his mandate, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing moved the parade to other streets of Paris, such as the Cours de Vincennes, the Military School or even between Bastille and République in Bastille. In 1982, François Mitterrand postponed the parade until nightfall. The ceremony is perfectly oiled. Parade rehearsals usually take place at dawn on July 12, two days before the key date. It opens with the passage of planes and helicopters. In all, around 4,000 soldiers marched down the Champs-Elysées at a rate of 120 steps per minute. Students from prestigious schools like Saint-Cyr come in full uniform. The march is traditionally closed by units of the Foreign Legion, famous for their voluminous beards and slower pace.

For nearly a century, the commemoration of July 14 was abandoned. It reappeared in 1880, under the Third Republic. The regime, to consolidate itself, seeks to build a new national imagination, around republican symbols. This is how the Marseillaise becomes the official anthem and July 14 a national holiday. But the proposal, which emanates from the deputy of the Seine Benjamin Raspail, is not unanimously welcomed by the Assembly. Some deputies questioned the violence of July 14, 1789. And it was finally around July 14, 1790 that consensus was reached!

That year, the monument surmounted by the statue in the Place de la République was also inaugurated, and concerts and fireworks were given everywhere. "The July column" which overlooks the Place de la Bastille, does not refer to July 14, 1789. It bears the name of the victims of the revolutionary days of July 1830, the "Trois glorious".

July 14, 1789 is on everyone's mind when we think of the National Day. That summer, a great agitation reigned in Paris. Faced with popular discontent, the king called together the States General, an assembly of representatives of the nobility, the clergy and the third estate. The latter demanded a profound reform of the institutions and, on July 9, proclaimed themselves the National Constituent Assembly. The initiative worried the king who secretly brought Swiss and German regiments near Versailles. Word soon spread that royal troops were preparing to enter Paris to arrest the deputies. On July 12, a speaker harangues the crowd whom he calls to react: it is Camille Desmoulins, mounted on a barrel, who announces a "Saint Barthélemy des patriotes".

On the morning of July 14, angry Parisians fetch weapons from the Invalides, then head to the old royal fortress of the Bastille, in search of gunpowder. After a day of bloody shooting, and thanks to the rallying of national guards, the Parisians seized it and began its demolition. In the end, they only release a few prisoners and thugs without scale. But this old medieval prison embodies the arbitrariness of the Old Regime. By knocking it down, the Parisians are bringing down a rampart of absolutism. And this day, which marks the beginning of the Revolution, will be remembered as a day of freedom.

But surprise: our national holiday does not directly commemorate July 14, 1789, even if this first revolutionary day has a symbolic significance. July 14 officially refers to another event, less known, although learned by all French students from an early age: the Fête de la Fédération, organized a year later, on July 14, 1790...

After the summer of 1789, throughout the French provinces, regional "federations" of national guards were created. A reaction to the weakening of central power. In order to control this spontaneous movement, the Commune of Paris, under the impetus of Lafayette, decided to found a large national federation bringing together representatives of local federations and to bring them together in Paris on July 14. The ceremony is supposed to celebrate the storming of the Bastille, a year after this symbolic date, but also to bring a semblance of order and unity in a country in crisis.

On the appointed day, 14,000 federated soldiers arrived in Paris and marched under the banner of their department, from the Bastille to the Champ-de-Mars. On an esplanade set up for the occasion, a high mass is celebrated, following which King Louis XVI swears to maintain "the Constitution decided by the National Assembly". The 400,000 Parisians present that day acclaim their sovereign: the monarchy is therefore not called into question. The aspiration to national unity triumphs and the ceremony turns into a great popular festival. But national reconciliation will be short-lived. Two years later, the king was arrested and sentenced to death.

A decree of July 6, 1880 establishes a military parade that we still know today. This event should then erase the memory of the military defeat suffered during the war of 1870, the loss of Alsace and part of Lorraine to the benefit of the German Empire, and strengthen the Republic which has not yet ten years. The first edition of the military parade took place at the Longchamp racecourse, where it would remain until 1914. The July 14 parade would then continue and become a staple of the national holiday.

But the law of 1880 also establishes July 14 as a public holiday. The idea is then to give a day off to the French to participate in the commemorations, but also to listen to their president. From July 14, 1880, at 12:30 p.m., the cannons of Mont-Valérien thundered above the Seine before falling silent for a speech by the President of the Republic, Jules Grévy. Le Petit Journal is ecstatic over a "magnificent spectacle [...] that the July sun illuminated with its most radiant light", evoking "a living symbol of union between these two forces separated for too long, the army and the nation". The popular newspaper continues: "To the deep, unspeakable emotion, which held for twenty minutes, a hundred thousand panting chests, one can affirm that for this crowd which thronged around the massed regiments, the handing over of the colors took on its true meaning: the reconstitution of France, the reconstitution of its national army, finally asserting itself in the face of the country".

Over the years, July 14 has seen many adventures, but also changes that have transformed it into a general or even global holiday, bringing together all French people in more festive and popular celebrations. In 1886, a woman, cantinière of the 131st infantry regiment, marched for the first time. In 1915, the military parade moved from the Champs-de-Mars to the Champs-Elysées and in 1919, the "parade of victory" brought together all the forces of the allied countries.

In 1936, the unions joined the party in their own way. After the military parade, a million people marched at the call of the trade unions. From 1939 to 1945, in occupied Paris, the day was not celebrated. On July 14, 1940, in London, General de Gaulle reiterated his calls for resistance. But in July 1945, we celebrate the Liberation everywhere in France. Every year since, July 14 is the occasion to shoot fireworks and organize popular balls... Throughout France, events are organized on July 14 or the evening before.

The origin of the July 14 balls, and in particular the famous firefighters' ball, is also uncertain. For many, this tradition dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, and was born out of the frustration of firefighters at not being able to participate in this great celebration. Some were indeed responsible for parading with the military when others had to remain on alert to prevent incidents and fires, common, as we know, when fireworks are fired. On an undetermined July 14, firefighters allegedly invited passers-by to dance at the entrance to their fire station. Each year, this meeting grew and settled until the firefighters' associations organized their own ball, on July 13 or 14. For others, it is the date of July 14, 1937, which marks the beginning of the firefighters' balls. In Paris, in Montmartre, a sergeant by the name of Cournet also decided one day to open the doors of his barracks, giving rise to a big party, reports Liberation, which investigated this tradition in 2014. This version of the story is notably taken up on the website of the Paris firefighters.