Emmanuel Macron and wife watch scaled-down Bastille Day celebrations

Emmanuel Macron and his wife watch scaled-down Bastille Day celebrations honoring COVID workers – from nurses to supermarket cashiers – as he hands out payrise to health staff to see off protests at how he handled the crisis

  • Slimmed-down Bastille Day celebrations have taken place in Paris, with military honouring COVID workers
  • Parade went through Place de la Concorde, the first time since 1945 that the Champs Elysees was not used
  • Event closed to the public, with 2,500 guests allowed to watch including families of health workers who died
  • It took place just hours after Emmnauel Macron struck a deal with health workers, who were due to protest 

Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron oversaw slimmed-down Bastille Day celebrations in Paris today as France marked its most important national day in unusual fashion. 

An hour-long military parade took place in Place de la Concorde, the city’s largest square, as opposed to the Champs Elysees – the first time since 1945 that the street has not been the focal point of the celebrations.

The parade involved 2,195 troops, half as many as usual, with detachments limited to 49 people to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile the crowd was limited to just 2,500 spectators with foreign dignitaries replaced by the families of health workers who died fighting the virus along with essential staff. The event was closed to the public. 

The parade comes a day after Macron signed a deal that guarantees £7billion in payrises and new contracts for health workers, who had planned to demonstrate opposite the square to highlight the government’s failings. 

Emmanuel Macron took part in slimmed-down Bastille Day celebrations in Paris on Tuesday, marking the day the French Revolution started

Brigitte Macron arrived separately to her husband to oversee the parade, which took place in Place de la Concorde instead of along the Champs Elysee for the first time since 1945

2,195 troops took part in the parade – half the usual number – with detachments limited to 49 people to help prevent the spread of coronavirus

A fly-past featuring French military planes also included aircraft that were used to transport coronavirus patients at the peak of France’s crisis

Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron sat apart in a socially-distanced crowd as they watch Bastille Day celebrations in Paris

Included in the crowd was Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organisation who has faced heavy criticism for his handling of the crisis

Even the annual fireworks display over the Eiffel Tower will be largely restricted to television viewers only, since City Hall is closing off the heart of Paris, including embankments of the Seine and other neighborhoods where crowds usually gather on Bastille Day. 

This years’ commemoration is also paying homage to former President Charles de Gaulle, 80 years after the historic appeal he made to opponents of France’s Nazi occupiers that gave birth to the French Resistance.

Speaking ahead of the celebration, Macron had said: ‘This ceremony will be the symbol of the commitment of an entire nation. It will also be the symbol of our resilience.

‘Exceptionally, this year, our armies … will cede the primary place to the women and men in hospital coats who fought’ the virus and who remain ‘ramparts in the crisis.’ 

He hailed the French military for building a field hospital and carrying patients in cargo jets or specially fitted high-speed trains, and paid tribute to the volunteers who allowed ‘our nation to hold on.’ 

Macron dedicated the ceremony to health staff and essential workers who found themselves on the frontlines of France’s coronavirus response

For the first time since 1945 troops did not march down the Champs Elysee (pictured), but instead marched around a square at the far end of the street

French soldiers take part in a slimmed-down Bastille Day parade in central Paris on Tuesday

The number of guests were limited to 2,500 – with crowds required to sit in chairs placed at intervals to ensure social distancing

 The parade took place in Place de la Concorde, Paris’s largest public square, and not on the Champs Elysee for the first time since 1945

As the ceremony concluded, fighter jets painted the sky red, white and blue in a traditional fly-past, but were also joined by helicopters that transported coronavirus emergency patients.

France is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world with coronavirus, having seen almost 210,000 patients diagnosed, and more than 30,000 deaths.

The country went into a strict lockdown in early March in order to slow the spread of the virus, before beginning a gradual reopening starting in May.

Experts are now warning of the possibility of a second wave of infections, as people head back into public spaces and fly off on holidays.

The annual events mark the storming of Bastille prison on 14 July 1789, seen as the start of the French Revolution.

Soldiers wear face masks as they prepare to take part in Bastille Day celebrations in Paris

French soldiers perform a military exercise during the Bastille Day celebrations on Place de la Concorde in Paris

Pupils of the Ecole des officers de la Gendarmerie nationale take part in the annual parade, which marks France’s most important national day

A student of the Ecole Polytechniaue wearing a protective facemask arrrives prior to the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris

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