Top 10 biggest rallies in Paris


Paris, the city of love and the city of light, has also been known for being a showroom for protestation since the French Revolution. Traditionally, the French have a reputation for being on strike which somehow explains why most demonstrations are organised by unions. However other causes are worth mentioning which are not always related to work issues: the protest against same-sex marriage, a human tide pressing towards the Champs-Élysées in the event of a sporting victory, and a few days ago, a tribute paid to the 17 people killed during a terrorist attack in Paris.

Here are the 10 biggest rallies and demonstrations which have been organised in Paris since the Second World War.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Last Sunday’s mass rally in Paris drew about three million people in which French President François Hollande was joined by a string of world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. In a statement, François Hollande said: “Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side“.

Leaders at the Paris March 11 January 2015 - photo AFP

Leaders at the Paris March 11 January 2015 – photo AFP

The historic “Marche Républicaine” (Republican march) was organised along a 3km route down the Boulevard Voltaire between Place de la République and Place de la Nation. There were so many walkers wanting to pay tribute to the 17 people killed during three days of terror that it was impossible to calculate the exact number of participants. The French authorities believed it was the biggest march in France since the liberation of Paris from the Germans in 1944.

26 August 1944

Liberation of Paris. De Gaulle walking down the Champs-Elysées, 26 August 1944 © Roger Viollet

Liberation of Paris. De Gaulle walking down the Champs-Elysées, 26 August 1944 © Roger Viollet

One million Parisians gathered in the Champs-Élysées to cheer General Charles de Gaulle in the aftermath of the liberation of Paris from the German.

Liberation of Paris, 26 August 1944

Liberation of Paris, 26 August 1944

13 February 1962

One million demonstrators (150,000 according to the French police) followed the funerals of nine communists killed by the police during a demonstration against OAS (an organisation opposed to Algerian independence (1961-63).

13 May and 30 May 1968

The two main demonstrations during the events of May 68 in France gathered one million people (200,000 to 500,000 according to the police). The first demonstration was organised by the unions, the second supported the policy of President De Gaulle.

24 June 1986

More than 1.5 million people (850,000 according to the French authorities) walked in the streets of Paris to stand up for private education (l’école libre).

4 December 1986

Between 200,000 to 1 million students gathered against the Devaquet draft bill.

16 January 1994

This demonstration was organised against the revision of the Falloux law about private school funding. One million walkers (260,000 according to the police).

12 July 1998

Over 1.5 million people swept across the Champs-Élysées to celebrated France’s victory in the Football World Cup.

24 March 2013

Between 300,000 people (according to the police) and 1.4 million people (according to the organisers) marched in Paris to ask the government to withdraw its same-sex marriage bill.


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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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