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L’X at the head of the Bastille Day parade

320 Polytechnicians will march on the Champs-Elysées on Sunday, July 14, leading the troops of the French Army on foot.

Ecole polytechnique's students leading the troops on the Bastille Day Parade

Bastille Day: fireworks, formal balls and, of course, the parade. As in previous years, the troops of the French Army will march on the Champs-Elysées for the occasion of France’s national holiday. And, also following their yearly tradition, the students of École Polytechnique will open the parade, leading all the other military schools.

There will be 320 Polytechnicians among the 4212 men and women marching along the “most beautiful avenue in the world”, from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde. The students will begin the march directly after the opening presentation, which will showcase the latest advances in the military and the troops being honored. This year, the spotlight will be put on all aspects of European military cooperation, presenting, for example, the Franco-German Brigade and the European Corps.

The students, who have just reached the end of their first year at École Polytechnique, recently completed their personal development and military training in the Armed Forces and the police force, or at non-military organizations. They will train for a full week with all the marching troops at the Satory military base, before appearing before the French President on Sunday.

See behind the scenes of the student parade in 2018:

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Personal development and military training
The personal development and military training course is a compulsory step for all first-year students. They spend six months in the Armed Forces, police force or civilian organizations in metropolitan France, its overseas departments or abroad. Each student is made aware of the importance of the human factor in the world of work and develops their interpersonal skills within a group. Considered as a full teaching component separate from academic study, this course is intended as an experience in maturity with a threefold perspective: geographical, sociological, and intellectual, with the world of preparatory classes or university. It aims to promote open-mindedness and understanding of social realities among students who will be called upon in the future to assume responsibilities as engineers or executive managers. Two thirds of the French students complete their course at a ministry of the Armed Forces, with the rest going to civilian organizations.