A French inventor and entrepreneur has helped celebrate Bastille Day by soaring above the Champs-Elysees on a turbine engine-powered “flyboard” in front of President Emmanuel Macron and other EU leaders.
Former jet-skiing champion Franky Zapata was a futuristic centrepiece of the annual parade to mark France’s national day – although the rifle he held was also taken as a sign of the possible military uses of his high-tech device.
Before Sunday’s parade, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told France Inter radio that Mr Zapata’s could “allow tests for different kinds of uses, for example as a flying logistical platform or, indeed, as an assault platform”.
The flyboard can reach speeds of up to 190km/h and run for 10 minutes.
Mr Zapata is now eyeing a crossing of the English Channel – although that would require a refuelling in mid-flight.
He plans to make the crossing on July 25, 110 years to the day after pioneering aviator Louis Bleriot made the first powered flight across the Channel, in a monoplane.
The Bastille Day parade was also marked by protesters who took over the Champs Elysees just hours after Mr Macron presided over France’s annual show of national pride.
The boulevard in central Paris was reopened to traffic on Sunday as soon as the parade finished but a few hundred protesters from the grassroots ‘yellow vests’ movement tried to occupy it.
France’s BFM television showed images of police firing tear gas to disperse the protesters, some hooded, who tried to block the road with metal barricades, dustbins and other debris.
Several loud bangs could be heard. Protesters hurled objects at the police, booed and set a bin on fire.
Earlier, a French police source and a court source said about 152 yellow vest protesters and their leaders had been detained near the Champs Elysees as they tried to stage a protest.