He first lady Melania Trump skipped an arrival ceremony at the residence of the French president earlier in the day and did not walk down the Champs-Elysees with other world leaders, traveling to the Arc de Triomphe in the USA president's bullet-proof limousine, instead.
UPSTAGED: Russian President Vladimir Putin was the last to arrive at the Arc de Triomphee.
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are among those in Paris for the commemorations, which coincide with Veterans Day in the United States.
The world leaders walked side by side to commemorate the end of the war in a sombre, rain-soaked line as bells finished tolling.
On Saturday, the leaders of France and Germany held hands and rested their heads against one another in a poignant ceremony to mark the signing of the Armistice peace agreement.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited security protocols for the presidential motorcade's solo trip down the grand Champs-Elysees to the arc, which was closed to traffic.
At least one other topless protester also made it into the avenue, but was unable to reach the cars. The feminist activist group Femen later claimed responsibility.
After the service today, the world leaders will attend a lunch hosted by the French President.
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It was not clear what Trump chose to do instead of attending the cemetery. That's why I do believe that we need more European defence in order to take this part of the burden.
Weaker at home for unpopular economic policies and increasingly isolated in Europe, Macron has been positioning himself as a sort of anti-Trump, speaking out against the rising tide of Trump-style populist nationalism across Europe and the dangers of isolationist retreat.
"But I'm a strong believer in cooperation between the different peoples. We have a lot of problems".
It was the same with Macron, who welcomed Trump in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace with a handshake and pats on the arm. The president had been expected to meet with Putin during the visit, but will instead sit down with him formally later this month at a world leaders' summit in Buenos Aires.
Should the two leaders chat briefly during Sunday's events, their body language will be closely scrutinised.
France, the epicentre of the first global conflict, is hosting the main worldwide commemoration on Sunday, which will press home a message of peace and hope for the world.
Those who fought in the trenches of World War One lived through an unimaginable hell, Macron said, highlighting that as well as the deaths of 10 million troops, millions of women were widowed and children orphaned. More than 1,500 Americans who died during the war are buried there.
Kelly Magsamen, who served on the National Security Council under both Republican and a Democratic presidents, said it displayed "real low energy", for Trump "to not bother to honor the sacrifice of American soldiers in WWI due to some rain".
Trump's trip to Paris to mark the occasion got off to a rocky start as he and French President Emmanual Macron worked Saturday to ease tensions after a dustup over their comments about European security threatened to divert attention from the weekend ceremonies.