France to replace traditional Bastille Day parade with tribute to health workers

France to replace traditional Bastille Day parade with tribute to health workers
There will be no military parade this year. Pictured: soldiers on parade in 2019 by AFP
France has announced that its traditional July 14th military parade in Paris will be cancelled - and replaced with a tribute to the medical workers at the forefront of the battle with coronavirus.

The French president's office announced on Thursday that rather than the traditional march of soldiers and display of military hardware down the Champs-Elysées, this year will see a much smaller ceremony at the Place de la Concorde, where the parade normally ends.

The planned ceremony will be “reduced to 2,000 participants and about 2,500 guests”, in compliance with the rules of social distancing, the Elysée added.

July 14th, known as the fête nationale, is a public holiday in France and is usually a day of parades, celebrations and parties including the highly popular bals de pompiers, where French firefighters host parties in their station houses.

The French Foreign Legion's distinctive pioneer corps are usually a popular sight in the parade. Photo: AFP

The Paris military parade is the biggest but many other towns and cities have their own parades, followed by parties and lavish firework displays.

This year looks likely to be a little more subdued, however.

Although many lockdown restrictions have been lifted the ban on mass gatherings has not, and political leaders say gatherings of more than 5,000 people are unlikely to be allowed before September.

The president often hosts foreign leaders at the July 14th parade, which also looks unlikely this year, although it seems likely that travel within Europe will be possible again by July.

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