PARIS : President Francois Hollande vowed Sunday to fight France's deep-rooted "pessimism" in the face of a struggling economy, while admitting the country's rail network should be better maintained after a deadly derailment.

In an interview with leading television channels to mark Bastille Day, Hollande insisted that recovery had already started in the French economy, which entered a recession this year and has record-high unemployment.

The deeply unpopular Hollande defended his first 14 months in office, saying his goal was to give "new confidence" to the country amid polls showing deep gloom among the French. "For years we have been the most pessimistic country in Europe, in the world even. There are countries at war that are more optimistic than we are," Hollande told journalists from TF1 and France 2 television.

 after attending the traditional Bastille Day military parade down the Champs Elysees.

France marked the holiday in mourning after Friday's rail accident on a regional line near Paris claimed six lives, and Hollande promised to make upgrading outdated lines a key priority.

"We must do much more to maintain traditional lines, existing lines," Hollande said, after officials complained of the country putting too much focus on its high-speed TGV lines.

With polls showing the economy and jobs as the country's top concerns, Hollande said France was already through the worst of its economic troubles.

"The economic recovery is here," he said, pointing to a pick-up in industrial production and slight recovery in consumption.

But with France struggling to get its deficit under control, Hollande could not rule out tax increases to help balance the budget.

"We will make -- we have made -- savings (in spending) and I will increase taxes only if absolutely necessary, ideally as little as possible," he said.

Hollande re-affirmed his promise to reverse the rise in unemployment by the end of the year, after the number of jobless in France hit a record 3.26 million.

"I am fighting" for jobs, Hollande said.

"There is the will, there is a strategy," he said, promising that 100,000 jobs for youth would be created by the end of the year.

He also said France would push ahead with controversial pension reforms expected in the autumn, which have already led to calls from unions for general strikes.

"Everyone will be called on to make efforts," he said, repeating that the number of working years required to receive full pension payments will likely increase.

The traditional military parade meanwhile unfolded under a sunny sky in Paris, with fighter jets flying overhead and troops marching to mark the start of the French Revolution, which began with the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789.

The parade drew attention to one of the few Hollande decisions that has won widespread praise -- the sending of French troops to intervene in Mali.

About 60 troops from Mali and a detachment from the UN peacekeeping force there led the march, joined by French troops who took part in the country's military intervention against Islamist rebels in the west African nation earlier this year.

France's surprise January intervention helped Mali's weak army drive out the Islamists, who had taken over the country's desert north. About 3,200 French troops remain in Mali, as it prepares for the first round of a presidential election on July 28.

"It was a victory for Africa, a victory against terrorism," Hollande said.

In a nod to efforts to cut government spending, the budget for this year's parade was reduced by 10-15 percent, with a third fewer vehicles than last year and 12 percent fewer aircraft.

Even with the cuts, about 4,800 servicemen and women took part, along with 265 vehicles, 58 planes and 35 helicopters from the army, navy, air force and other military structures.

Joining Hollande at the ceremony were UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore and Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, whose country became the 28th member of the European Union on July 1.

Hollande was subjected to a few boos and whistles at the start of the parade from a small number of protesters opposed to France's legalisation this year of same-sex marriages and adoptions by homosexual couples.