Got up pretty early today to catch the Bastille day parade. Now the actual start to the parade is from the Arc de Triomphe but we, another guy from the hostel and I, though we’d go further down the road to avoid the crowds a bit. Turns out, you just have to go where you’re sent.
We set off at about 9am, knowing it would be a 45 minutes walk to the Champs-Èlysee metro station. We walked instead of getting the Metro as we fancied the morning stroll and knew that the Metro was bound to be packed full. As we got closer to the parade area we starting seeing armed guards, military officers, and police everywhere, and they were guiding us in the most peculiar directions. According to our maps, the easiest way to the Avenue de Champs-Èlysee is pretty straight through the streets, mainly South West, but we were sent North, South, and I could swear at one point even East! We could tell we were getting closer as the amount of guards increased. All of a sudden, a large group of officers starting ushering us to a check point and they were doing bag searches and pat downs. I voluntarily opened my bag and they confiscated my bottle of water! If only I’d known before, I wouldn’t have brought it. After that fiasco, we could see a large mass of people all gathered at the end of the road and it turns out we were at the Franklin D. Roosevelt roundabout which was a lot closer to the starting point than we had intended to go.
Anyway, about half an hour after getting to the point, the parade started with three jets flying overhead lighting up the sky with the French tri-colours and then processions of marching bands filled the roads. The military convoy soon followed them with soldiers, tanks, and all types of vehicles (the strangest being tractors and diggers). The fire service then paraded with what looked like all available engines just driving through the street. More marching bands joined the parade including ones on horseback. After about an hour and a half of this, we considered beating the crowds and leaving but we would’ve missed another flyover if we had. The Airforce then had their parade, from fighter jets to helicopters and even carrier planes tool to the skies. We called it a day when the national anthem rang out and the jets flew over again with the red, white and blue fog (which I think symbolised the end anyway).
As Bastille Day is considered a public holiday, most spectacles are closed so we slowly headed back to the hostel as I needed to get my next travels plans sorted.
Tonight we’re going to check out the Eiffel Tower as it’s apparently supposed to sparkle at night.