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Tall Ships Parade in France

July 18, 1999

ROUEN, France (AP) _ Up to 2 million people lined the banks of the Seine on Sunday for a glimpse of dozens of tall ships parading down the river, their sails billowing, in the ``Armada of the Century.″

The armada climaxed a 10-day fete of the sailing vessels of yore that drew 8 million people to the inland port of Rouen in Normandy.

Up to 50 ships from almost 30 countries took part in the tall ships display.

On Sunday, the tall ships, accompanied by some warships, made their way along 75 miles of the Seine to the port of Le Havre.

The crowds gathered on the banks, in fields and on country bridges to watch the gallant vessels glide majestically over the waters.

Rouen echoed with the sound of fog horns signaling the departure of the ships, one by one.

Some young girls gently cried as they gazed at the Mexican vessel, the ``Cuauhtemao.″

At the head of the cortege was the 354-foot ``Mir″ of the Russian National Maritime Academy followed closely by the Ukrainian ``Kershones.″

Rouen welcomed the tall ships in 1989 for the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution and in 1994 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Another gathering of tall ships is planned in five years.

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