French President Nicolas Sarkozy led a Bastille Day parade Saturday along the Champs-Elysees that was joined for the first time by military contingents from all 27 countries of the European Union.
This is the first year Sarkozy is celebrating his nation's biggest holiday as president, and he sought to make his mark on the event by inviting European troops to join.
Bastille Day marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison in Paris by angry crowds. The event started the revolution that rid France of its monarchy.
"The basis for a European defense exists. We must make it grow," he said in a speech to European defense ministers and French military officers. "I want Europe to be capable of ensuring its security autonomously."