Tanks in Paris were almost certainly there for Bastille Day

29 July 2021
What was claimed

Tanks were seen in Paris’ Champs Élysées, around the same time as protests against France’s introduction of vaccine or immunity certification.

Our verdict

The photo was almost certainly taken on Bastille Day, a national French holiday, on which military vehicles parade the Champs Élysées. The same vehicles were seen in news reports and on social media.

A Facebook post includes an image of tanks lined up along Paris’ Champs-Élysées with the caption “Ladies and gentlemen, here we have an image of tanks on the streets of Central Paris. Nothing to worry about though.”

Although the post doesn’t mention it explicitly, recent protests in Paris against the introduction of new rules to make proof of Covid-19 vaccination or immunity mandatory to access cafes, restaurants and other indoor venues have attracted attention across the world. The same image in this post was used in other social media posts which strongly implied a link between the tanks and the protests. 

The picture was posted on 15 July, the day after Bastille Day, the French national holiday commemorating the storming of the Bastille and a key event in the French Revolution.

Similar military vehicles were pictured this year in national and international news, photo and video reports, as well as social media posts, from the Bastille Day parade in Paris. 

The parade is held annually along the Champs-Élysées, presided over by the French president, featuring an exhibition of military vehicles among other displays. The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Crucially, there have been no reports that France has declared martial law nor used tanks in response to protestors, although many other media outlets reported on the clashes in parts of the city on Bastille Day.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because the photo is likely to have been taken on Bastille day, France’s national holiday, which includes parades of military vehicles along the Champs-Élysées. There are also no reports of martial law or the introduction of military vehicles in response to the protests.

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