France to create space command within air force - Macron

France President Emmanuel Macron announces creation of a new space force command

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at a pre Bastille Day event in Paris on Saturday. | Reuters

The fireworks started at 11 PM CEST.

The clashes tarnished the July 14 national day that commemorates the 1789 storming of the Bastille fortress in Paris during the French Revolution and is marked every year by a military parade. While the French government abandoned its plans to raise fuel taxes and introduced other measures to improve the country's socio-economic situation, protesters continue to take to the streets across France every weekend for demonstrations to express their discontent with government's policies.

French President Emmanuel Macron was among those looking on for the celebration which this year showcases European defense cooperation. In his annual July 14 message, he said: "Not since the end of the Second World War has Europe been so necessary".

In his speech, Mr Macron added that for France the construction of a Europe of defence is the priority. "It is the theme of this parade".

The European Intervention Initiative is a 10-country coalition of European militaries ready to react to crises. The three helicopters and nearly 100 service personnel have been deployed to the French-led operation in Mali since 2018.

In a sign of France's ambition to be a leading modern military power under Macron, the president Saturday announced the creation of a national space force command that will eventually be part of the air force.

But as Macron opened the parade by being driven down the Champs-Élysées in an open-topped military vehicle, waving to a flag-carrying crowd, a few gilets jaunes (yellow vests) anti-government protestors, who had mingled with onlookers despite tight security, inflated yellow balloons and booed the president.

Earlier a French police source and a court source said 152 people - whom they linked to the "yellow vests" - had been detained near the Champs Elysees as they tried to stage a protest.

Police reportedly fired tear gas into the group of protesters, who were attempting to block the roadway with metal barricades and other obstructions.

Several loud bangs could be heard.

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