France celebrated its biggest holiday, Bastille Day, on Tuesday, commemorating the 1789 storming of the Bastille prison, which symbolized French people's frustration with a tyrannical monarchy.
The French enjoy Bastille Day with parades and parties, much like Americans celebrate Independence Day. This year, however, the official Bastille Day Parade, or Défilé du 14-Juillet, featured some unusual elements.
Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto and his wife were guests of honor, though the daring escape of drug lord "El Chapo" cast a pall over the visit. FranceTV reported that 156 Mexican soldiers walked in the parade, some displaying large birds of prey.
A détachement Ebola joined the procession, made up of 87 medics who fought Ebola in Africa.
France's elite anti-terror squads walked for the first time, in recognition of their work combatting terrorist attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.
“We are people who remain in the shadows and like to keep it that way, but given the events of January and the praise, we are happy to make a slight exception,” a colonel in the Research and Intervention Brigade told Europe 1. France24 reported that the soldiers wore sunglasses to hide their faces, and the media were instructed to not broadcast closeups.
French officials told France24 they set up an "experimental device" to neutralize drones that might threaten the day. It's not clear whether they used it.
Later Tuesday, Parisians flocked to the Eiffel Tower for some traditional fireworks.