Proud Parisians celebrated this year's Bastille Day in spectacular style, with a military parade and fireworks display -- but the event was not without a touch of controversy.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, who rode down the Champs-Elysees Avenue in a military vehicle despite a downpour, had to defend himself from critics after inviting diplomats from 13 African countries, including the Republic of Congo and Madagascar, that were once French colonies to join the festivities.
Sarkozy insisted the invitation was not an "expression of colonial nostalgia, or a French temptation to take over your independence celebrations," and said he wanted to celebrate historic bonds and "build the future together," according to the Associated Press.
The holiday marks the July 14, 1789 storming of the Bastille prison in Paris, which helped spark the French Revolution.
See photos of the Parisian celebrations here: