In the audience at the parade were quite a few Americans, with a mixed feeling about their President being part of the celebrations.
“I wish he had stayed home,” said Fred, who says he is from California. He did not know that Trump was the guest of honour until the day before.
“Trump has said so many negative things about France, and just rips with hypocrisy,” he continued, adding that previously Trump had “was talking about how France was diminished, and yet he’s here hobnobbing with Macron.”
In February Trump said Paris had been reckless in security and cited a friend named Jim who said “Paris isn’t Paris any longer” because of the increase in Islamic extremism.
Thursday in Paris Trump was asked about this, and he played it down. Paris is “going to be just fine”, he said, because France has a “great” and “tough” new president in Emmanuel Macron.
Kelly, from Oklahoma, defended Trump’s previous comments.
“I think he was expressing concerns about the things that happened here recently. And I think it was just his concern, not only for the US, but for France,” she said. “But I can understand why people took it another way.”
She and her husband were pleased to discover that Trump was in Paris during their short extended layover.
Suzanne and her three children, from Denver, Colorado, was not as pleased.
“We planned our trip around Bastille day, because we read about it and seen it and just want to be part of it,” she said. “We’re not big Trump supporters, so we were a little disappointed that the parade is not quite what we expected: more security, more tension. More America! We kind of wanted to see France.”
This feeling of wanting a more French experience was echoed by James and his wife Amy, regular visitors to Paris from Florida, who are Trump supporters, even if they would have liked to leave him back in the United States.
“A week ago I was in Washington DC, doing the same thing, seeing fireworks, watching the parade, in the nation’s capital. Here I am, and the same dude’s here!” said James.
“We just got here and said, Geez, I can’t get away from this guy,” he added, laughing. “He’s following us!”