Bastille Day  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Bastille Day is the French national holiday which is celebrated on 14 July each year. In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale (National Celebration) and commonly le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July). It commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution. Festivities are held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic.

The parade opens with cadets from the École Polytechnique, Saint-Cyr, École Navale, and so forth, then other infantry troops, then motorized troops; aviation of the Patrouille de France flies above. In recent times, it has become customary to invite units from France's allies to the parade; in 2004 during the centenary of the Entente Cordiale, British troops (the band of the Royal Marines, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, Grenadier Guards and King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery) led the Bastille Day parade in Paris for the first time, with the Red Arrows flying overhead. In 2007 the German 26th Airborne Brigade led the march followed by British Royal Marines.

The president used to give an interview to members of the press, discussing the situation of the country, recent events and projects for the future. Nicolas Sarkozy, elected president in 2007, has chosen not to give it. The President also holds a garden party at the Palais de l'Elysée.

Article 17 of the Constitution of France gives the President the authority to pardon criminals, and since 1991 the President has pardoned many petty offenders (mainly traffic offences) on 14 July. In 2007, President Sarkozy declined to continue the practice.




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