The Garde Républicaine is the modern incarnation of the historic military corps that have, since the earliest kings of France, protected the city of Paris, its people, and its government institutions. The Garde Républicaine also serves as the honor guard for the French heads of State.
Today they are part of the Gendarmerie, and continue to guard the Sénat, Palais de l’Elysée, the Assemblée Nationale, the Palais de Justice, and the Hôtel Matignon. They serve as ceremonial escorts for France’s highest government officials as well as important foreign guests, assist the Paris police with horseback patrols, maintain horseback security patrols in the forests of Ile-de-France, and provide motorcycle escorts for important sporting events such as the Tour de France.
The Garde Républicaine of 3200 men and women includes two infantry regiments (one which is the motorcycle brigade), the horseback cavalry regiment, and the musical formations including an orchestra, choir, marching band and even a Napoléon Drum Corps who perform in period costumes.
You’ll see them at the July 14th Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysées, and occasionally in military parades abroad. For these formal “show” events the Garde Républicaine show off their unique talents that, in all honesty, are more pretty than practical. For example, there are two motorcycle squadrons dedicated to acrobatic feats like one would see in a circus (ie a pyramid of 34 men on 7 motorcycles), as well as several calvary teams which perform dressage routines, including the period-costumed “Maison du Roy” which perform to the music and in the style of Louis XV.
Interesting fact: Did you know that the Caserne (barracks) du Quartier des Célestins and the Caserne Monge were both built on what were originally religious convents?
Every fall there is a Portes Ouvertes during the Journées du Patrimoine where the general public can have a peek inside the Garde Républicaine at the Caserne du Quartier des Célestins (Boulevard Henri IV, 4th) and see these performances and historic reenactments. Mark your calendars for September 25-26!
Have you got what it takes? Getting into the prestigeous Garde Républicaine is very competitive. You have to be between the age of 18 and 36, have French nationality, and be able to pass the physical and written exams. And of course if you want to play in the orchestra you have to be very talented! Their official website currently announces openings for a clarinet player and a bass player…just think of the cool uniforms you get to wear!
I love how happy those guys look :). I miss Paris!