“Vive la France,” cried many of the onlookers on Wednesday as the parades – made up of Ward War II-era vehicles and extras in period dress and uniforms – rumbled by to the sound of orchestras playing 1940s tunes.

The scenes were colourful highlights of commemorations recalling 25 August, 1944 when first French then US troops drove in Paris to take it from German forces who had been battling a week-long uprising by residents and Resistance fighters.

The day ended with an estimated tens of thousands of people braving the rain to turn out at the Place de la Bastille to watch a swing and boogie-woogie show.

Festivity

“In memory of what was also a unique moment of mass jubilation, we wanted this commemoration to be friendly and festive,” Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said.

“In memory of what was also a unique moment of mass jubilation, we wanted this commemoration to be friendly and festive”

Bertrand Delanoe,
Paris Mayor

Earlier, other ceremonies dotted the city, including the hoisting of the French tricolour flag atop the Eiffel Tower by firemen.

President Jacques Chirac, after decorating three French veterans from the armoured division that triumphantly entered the city six decades ago, led proceedings at the imposing City Hall with a speech paying homage to his wartime political model, General Charles de Gaulle.

“People of France, remember that day that forged our history. We will never forget the sacrifice of those who gave their lives to liberate Paris,” Chirac said.

The liberation of Paris 60 years ago came two months after Allied troops stormed the Normandy beaches on D-day, an invasion that spelled the beginning of the end of Nazi rule.

About 1500 resistance fighters and civilians died as they forced the Germans back to defensive positions in the city. Nearly 3000 of the 1,6000 Nazi troops in Paris were killed.