France invited World War I re-enactment groups from across the world to attend the 2014 Bastille Day celebrations, as Paris marked the 100th anniversary of the Great War.
Parisians and tourists alike were greeted with the surprising sight of "soldiers" in vintage army uniforms from Czarist Russia, Imperial Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, France and the US roaming around the capital on France’s national day.
The base camp for these World War I re-enactors? The capital’s popular Tuileries Garden (le Jardin des Tuileries), next to the world-famous Louvre Museum.
“We are here to honour and remember the soldiers who fought in World War I”, says Bastien Lepine, who travelled to Paris from the southern French town of Albi with the re-enactment association Histoire et Passions.
“We put on our uniforms as soon as we arrived last night to get into the spirit. I even slept here”, says Lepine, pointing to a large white tent 25 yards away from the German encampment. “We heard them celebrating their World Cup victory” he added with a laugh, referring to the German soccer triumph in Brazil.
Michael Pfahlar, a member of German re-enactment association Alte DSM, from Karlsruhe, said he was honoured to have been invited by the French. “It’s important to have contacts with French groups who share our interest in history,” said Pfahler. “We also met people from Romania and Italy … But last night we ended up talking more about football than World War I!”