PARIS — Military jets trailing exhaust in the red, white and blue of the French flag opened Francois Hollande's first Bastille Day parade as president on Saturday and jumpers gliding in on parachutes in the same patriotic colors ended it, thumping down on Paris' famed Champs-Elysees in front of the new French leader.
Under an overcast sky, the pomp celebrating the 1789 beginnings of the French revolution began with bagpipes, dressage and several renditions of the Marseillaise national anthem. Booming jets then performed overflights in formation before a stream of military units and tanks began rolling down the Champs.
Fierce gusts of wind knocked one of the parachutists off his mark at the parade's finale, sending him a few meters (yards) away from his target. Hollande swung by after the parade to check in on the wayward jumper as he recovered by a fountain, and he told the French leader he had sprained his knee but was otherwise fine.
The sun struggled to shine through the clouds, but the weather was a vast improvement on Hollande's last trip down the avenue: Pouring rain soaked his suit and clouded his glasses as he waved from his open-top car on the day of his inauguration.
A family feud involving Hollande's current partner, his former partner, his son and an apparently vindictive tweet has also clouded the day. First lady Valerie Trierweiler watched the parade from the first row – but she and other companions of dignitaries sat separate from their partners, as in years past.
Hollande tried to defuse the affair in an interview later Saturday, saying that he wanted to keep his public and private lives separate and that he had asked those close to him to do the same.
Bastille Day marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison by angry Paris crowds that helped spark the French Revolution.