Paris: Military jets trailing red, white and blue exhaust opened President Francois Hollande's first Bastille Day parade as the French leader on Saturday.
Under an overcast sky, the pomp began with bagpipes, dressage and several renditions of the Marseillaise national anthem. Booming jets then performed overflights in formation before a stream of military units and tanks began rolling down Paris' famed Champs-Elysees Avenue.
The sun struggled to shine through the clouds, but the weather was a vast improvement on Hollande's last trip down the Champs: Pouring rain soaked his suit and clouded his glasses as he waved from his open-top car on the day of his inauguration.
A family feud involving Hollande's current partner, his former partner, his son and an apparently vindictive tweet has also clouded the day. First lady Valerie Trierweiler watched the parade from the first row — but she and other companions of dignitaries sat separate from their partners, as in years past.
The country was waiting for Hollande's response to the latest episode in an interview later in the day. He is also expected to talk about the major domestic and international challenges facing France, which is struggling to return to economic growth as many of its neighbors in Europe slip into recession.
Bastille Day marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison by angry Paris crowds that helped spark the French Revolution.
First Published: Saturday, July 14, 2012, 17:41