721 cars torched in France over Bastille Day

While most of France was celebrating the country's national Bastille Day, there was also a huge spike in acts of car arson.

According to the Interior Ministry during the preparations for France's national anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French revolution 721 cars were torched across the country - 23% more than last year.

Torching cars is a bizarre and widespread phenomenon in France seen during national celebrations such as New Year's eve and Bastille Day and during mass protests. More than 10,000 cars were reported torched during mass protests against police brutality in 2005, largely focused around the north Parisian banlieue of Seine-Saint-Denis.

Between the night of 13 and 14 July a huge spike in arrests for car arson were also recorded, with 603 people being taken into police custody for the offence - a 68% rise since last year. In total, 723 people were detained over the two nights.

A spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior attributed the high detention rate to the so called 'Vigipirate' strategy in light of the heightened security state in France, with more heavily armed forces patrolling major city streets as an anti-terror measure in response to January's attacks in Paris.

"The police have been particularly mobilized, aided by the Vigipirate, in exercising zero tolerance against these reckless acts," the spokesperson told Le Figaro.

Over the Bastille Day celebrations a video of a long row of cars burning in the affluent Parisian 16 district (known as Arrondissement de Passy) went viral in France. Le Parisien interviewed occupants on the first floor of the building opposite the burning row of cars who explained that firemen told residents not to leave their houses out of fear that the cars may explode and called the incident "something unseen".

New Year's Eve remains a major flashpoint for car burning. France welcomed 2015 by torching 940 cars, which, although higher than this week's figures, was still a 12% decrease from the year before.