Commemorating the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution in 1789, Bastille Day is France's most spectacular holiday. Bastille Day 2011 was marked by colorful military parades and spectacular air displays as proud citizens took to the Champs-Élysées avenue to celebrate.
Bastille Day, known in France as Fête Nationale, commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, which was held on the one-year anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, a Parisian prison that housed very few inmates, but which came to symbolize the tyranny of the Bourbon monarchs.
In addition to the parade, Bastille Day 2011 included a bevy of festivals, galas, parties, and an Incredible Picnic.
The day did have one sobering moment. Appearing at the festivities, French President Nicolas Sarkozy dedicated this year's celebration to five French soldiers who lost their lives serving in Afghanistan.
Here's a look at the festivities in Paris: