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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 July 2007, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Sarkozy shakes up French holiday
French President Nicolas Sarkozy takes part in Bastille Day parade

France is celebrating its national day under new President Nicolas Sarkozy with a shake-up of tradition.

For the first time, soldiers from France's 26 EU partners have taken part in the Bastille Day military parade.

The move, meant to underline France's commitment to Europe, was announced shortly after Mr Sarkozy took office.

Mr Sarkozy, who took over from Jacques Chirac in May, has also broken with the customary television address and amnesty of minor offenders.

Flag-bearers from all the European Union's member states marched down the Champs Elysees in Paris, with the EU and French flags at the front.

Mr Sarkozy told official guests the intention was "to say that France was back in Europe and that Europe had to look at France through different eyes".

Mr Sarkozy led the parade, standing in the back of a slow-moving military vehicle.

In another break with protocol, he brought the horse guards behind him to an abrupt halt by stopping to shake hands with the crowd.

Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, which launched the French Revolution.


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