Nearly 5,000 military personnel took part in a parade on the Champs Elysees avenue in the French capital, Paris, to mark annual Bastille Day.
President Francois Holland was joined by United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon and Malian interim President Dioncounda Traore.
The celebrations come two days after at least six people were killed in a train accident outside Paris.
The French president admitted there was an equipment failure, but said France needed to prioritise investment in regional rail lines.
Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports.