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May 27, 2017

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Paris celebrates its 70-year anniversary of liberation from German occupation

PLE-DE-SEIN, France--French President Francois Hollande led tributes to the French Resistance on Monday, as Paris celebrated the 70th anniversary of its joyful liberation after four long and bitter years of Nazi occupation in World War II.

Soaked by a torrential downpour on the Ile de Sein off northwestern France, Hollande hailed the bravery of the tiny island's population, who refused to accept their country's occupation and fled to Britain to join the fight for France's liberation.

"A tiny parcel of land in the ocean, the Ile de Sein was in the vanguard, an example, an illustration of French patriotism," he said.

"The message from Ile de Sein is that there is no danger, no difficulty we cannot overcome as long as the will is there, as long as people gather together," said Hollande, who made no reference to his own political difficulties only hours after his prime minister handed in his government's resignation.

Hollande's speech on the island kicked off a day of celebrations that will climax with Parisians marking their city's liberation just as their parents and grandparents did seven decades ago — with a gala dance at City Hall.

There will also be an altogether more modern twist to the ball later Monday, with a sound and light show and huge projections of previously unseen photos on the facade of the imposing building in central Paris.

However, present-day politics conspired to force Prime Minister Manuel Valls to cancel his scheduled appearance, as he finished appoining his new cabinet after tendering his government's resignation amid a row over economic policy.

Hollande stuck to his engagements, though, and unveiled a plaque at the police headquarters to those office who "from 1940 were engaged on the path of courage and Resistance."

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