• Short Summary

    France celebrated its traditional "Bastille Day" with a difference on Sunday (14 July). It became?

  • Description

    France celebrated its traditional "Bastille Day" with a difference on Sunday (14 July). It became a holiday for the people with the traditional display of the nation's armed might toned down.

    French President Valery Giscard O'Estaing said he wanted the national day to regain its "gaiety and contacts with the people". He ideas received approval from the country's left wing.

    The traditional military parade was not staged on the wide Avenue des Champs Elysees as in past years, but along the edge of working-class eastern Paris.

    It started at the Place de la Bastille -- site of the infamous royal prison taken by the people of Paris when the French Revolution began 185 years ago -- and ran to the Palace de La Republique, which has similar popular associations.

    No tanks, armoured cars or any other vehicles took part, giving the parade a simpler image and saving an estimated 300,000 litres (66,000 gallons) of petrol.

    Horsemen of the Republican Guard led the march past, followed by 13,000 soldiers and airmen as well as detachments of women from the three armed services.

    But some of the colour of past years was preserved by fly-pasts of three types of military aircraft: a flight of Fouga-Magister fighter bombers, Mirage IV fighters and Jaguar "planes.

    President Gioscard stood for nearly an hour with government members reviewing the march-past.

    The parade anded with Foreign Legionnaires wearing white kepis and slow-marching.

    SYNOPSIS: The Place de La Bastille in Paris, the French capital.

    It's "Bastille Day" -- a traditional annual ceremony which marks the storming of the infamous royal prison by the people of Paris a hundred and eighty five years ago at the start of the French Revolution. France's new President Giscard D'Estaing laid a wreath to commemorate the event.

    After the wreath-laying, a parade by all sections of France's armed forces. Normally this is an occasion to demonstrate the nation's military strength. Bit this year the tanks and other armoured vehicles were absent -- by order of the President. He said he wanted to simply the country's national day ...it also saved around sixty-six thousand gallons of petrol.

    The airforce was also represented in a fly-past by Jaguar aircraft.

    The President made other changes in the Bastille Day celebrations, Since 1945 the parade had been held in the wide Avenue des Champs Elysees. This year it was staged along the edge of working-class eastern Paris -- from the Place de La Bastille to the Place de La Repbulcique. President Giscart has asked that the national day regain its "gaiety and contact with the people". He was backed by the country's left wing.

    In all some thirteen thousand members of the French armed forces took part and President Giscard stood for almost an hour with government members reviewing the march past. It ended with a contingent of Foreign Legionnaires.

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