Thousands of people have lined the Champs-Elysees in Paris for France's Bastille Day military parade, kicking off national celebrations led by President Francois Hollande.
Meanwhile, Hollande also gave a lengthy interview on French television -- saying that he refused to countenance a plan announced on July 12 by French carmaker Peugeot Citroen to cut 8,000 jobs.
"This [layoff] plan, as it stands, is not acceptable," he said. "So, it will not be accepted. Going forward from that, a dialogue must be held, so that there are no layoffs at Peugeot."
Hollande said the government wants an expert to assess Peugeot and make recommendations. He also said the government will soon announce a stimulus plan for the automobile sector, including incentives to encourage the purchase of French-made cars.
During the interview, Hollande also discussed the ongoing crisis in Syria, saying that he had urged Russia to stop blocking UN Security Council actions to end the violence.
He maintained that during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 1, the two men agreed that a "civil war" in Syria had to be prevented.
"The worst case would be to have a civil war in Syria," he said. "So, let's work towards finding a political solution that avoids civil war. There is still time."
Nonetheless, Hollande added that Russia and China continue to block all Security Council resolutions aimed at ending the violence.
Hollande also commented on relations with Germany, saying his relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel was "frank, balanced, and respectful."
This Bastille Day is Hollande's first since he was elected president in May.
Bastille Day on July 14 commemorates the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress prison by Parisians in 1789 -- an event symbolizing the French Revolution which led to the founding of modern France and the downfall of the monarchy.
The Bastille Day parade is the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe.
With reporting by AFP and dpa