French President Emmanuel Macron is leading Bastille Day commemorations on Wednesday as the country faces a rise in coronavirus cases fueled by the more contagious Delta variant.
Last year's display paid homage to health workers, as France grappled with the pandemic.
This year marks a return to a more traditional military parade, but COVID-19 restrictions remain in place. Only 15,000 people have been allowed in the stands instead of 25,000 under normal circumstances.
Attendees are wearing face masks and had to show a health pass.
The European special forces in the Sahel known as Takuba are playing a prominent role in this year's Bastille Day festivities. About 80 military troops from Sweden, Estonia, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Holland opened the military parade on the Champs Elysées.
Their presence highlights the strategic role that Paris envisions for Takuba after Macron announced last month the official end of Operation Barkhane, a seven-year mission against jihadist groups in the Sahel.
Bastille Day is the French national holiday that commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution on July 14, 1789, when angry Paris crowds stormed the Bastille prisons.