France Flag

Flag History

In the early days of the French Revolution, the three colors were brought together in the form of a cockade. In July 1789, just before the storming of the Bastille, the city of Paris found itself in a state of great distress. A militia was formed and the element that characterized it was a cockade composed of the two old colors of Paris: blue and red. On July 17, Louis XVI arrived in Paris to recognize the new National Guard who wore the blue and red cockade to which Commander Lafayette had apparently added white.

The law of 27 pluviôse, of the year II (of February 15, 1794), established the "tricolor” as the national flag. On the recommendation of the painter David, the law stipulated that the blue should be placed on the side of the pole.

During the 19th century, the blue of the legitimist royalists was in contention with the three colors inherited from the Revolution. The white flag was reintroduced under the restoration, but Louis Philippe restored the “tricolor” and crowned it with the French rooster.

During the Revolution of 1848, the provisional government changed the "tricolor"; however, the people on the barricades raised a red flag as a sign of their uprising.

Under the Third Republic, a consensus regarding the three colors was soon reached. Starting in 1880, the presentation of the colors to the armed forces every July 14 became a moment of great patriotic fervor.

Despite the fact that the Count of Chambord, claimant to the French throne, never lent the “tricolor”, the royalists ended up rallying around the national flag at the time of the First World War.

The constitutions of 1946 and 1958 (article 2) instituted the blue, white, and red flag as the national emblem of the Republic. The colors represent "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity", which were the ideals of the French Revolution and is France's national motto as of the beginning of the Republic of France. Blue and red are also traditionally the colors of Paris, while white is the color of the House of Bourbon.

Today, the French flag is seen on all public buildings. It is hoisted for national commemorations, and honors are paid to it according to a very precisely defined ceremony. Frequently, the flag is used as a backdrop when the president of the republic addresses the people. As circumstances require, it may be accompanied by the European flag or the flag of another country.

Flag Date of Adoption

15 February 1794

Flag Symbolism

Three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red; known as the French Tricouleur (Tricolor); the design and/or colors are similar to a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Cote d'Ivoire, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands; the official flag for all French dependent areas.

The colors of the French flag "combine" various symbols that were invented for various factors, such as:

Blue is the color of Saint Martin, who was a wealthy Gallo-Roman officer who tore his blue cloak in two with his sword to give one half to a beggar in a snowstorm. That represents service, the duty of the rich to help the poor.

White is the color of the Virgin Mary, to whom Louis XIII consecrated the Kingdom of France in the 17th century; it is the color of Joan of Arc, under whose banner the English were also finally driven out of the Kingdom (in the 15th century). Logically, it became the color of royalty. The king's ships carried white flags at sea.

Red is the color of Saint Denis, the patron saint of Paris. The kings' original war flag was the red banner of Saint Denis.

France National Anthem

Listen to National Anthem
Anthem History La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, was composed in one night during the French Revolution (April 24, 1792) by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, a captain of the engineers and amateur musician stationed in Strasbourg in 1792. It was played at a patriotic banquet at Marseilles, and printed copies were given to the revolutionary forces then marching on Paris. They entered Paris singing this song, and to it they marched to the Tuileries on August 10th.

Ironically, Rouget de Lisle was himself a royalist and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new constitution. He was imprisoned and barely escaped the guillotine. Originally entitled Chant de guerre de l'armée du Rhin (War Song of the Army of the Rhine), the anthem became called La Marseillaise because of its popularity with volunteer army units from Marseilles.

The Convention accepted it as the French national anthem in a decree passed on July 14, 1795. La Marseillaise was banned by Napoléon during the Empire, and by Louis XVIII during the Second Restoration (1815), because of its revolutionary associations. Authorized after the July Revolution of 1830, it was again banned by Napoléon III and not reinstated until 1879.
Anthem Lyrics La Marseillaise

Allons enfants de la patrie,

Le jour de gloire est arrivé

Contre nous de la tyrannie

L'étendard sanglant est levé

Entendez vous dans les campagnes,

Mugir ces féroces soldats?

Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras

Egorger nos fils, nos compagnes!


Aux armes, citoyens!

Formez vos bataillons!

Marchons! Marchons!

Qu'un sang impur

Abreuve nos sillons!

Amour sacré de la patrie,

Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs!

Liberté, Liberté cherie,

Combats avec tes defenseurs!

Sous nos drapeaux, que la victoire

Accoure à tes males accents!

Que tes ennemis expirants

Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire!


Nous entrerons dans la carrière

Quand nos ainés n'y seront plus;

Nous y trouverons leur poussière

Et la trace de leurs vertus.

Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre

Que de partager leur cercueil,

Nous aurons le sublime orgueil

De les venger ou de les suivre!

Anthem Lyrics English Arise children of the fatherland

The day of glory has arrived

Against us tyranny's

Bloody standard is raised

Listen to the sound in the fields

The howling of these fearsome soldiers

They are coming into our midst

To cut the throats of your sons and consorts

To arms citizens

Form you battalions

March, march

Let impure blood

Water our furrows

What do they want this horde of slaves?

Of traitors and conspiratorial kings?

For whom these vile chains

These long-prepared irons?

Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage

What methods must be taken?

It is we they dare plan

To return to the old slavery!

What! These foreign cohorts!

They would make laws in our courts!

What! These mercenary phalanxes

Would cut down our warrior sons

Good Lord! By chained hands

Our brow would yield under the yoke

The vile despots would have themselves be

The masters of destiny

Tremble, tyrants and traitors

The shame of all good men

Tremble! Your parricidal schemes

Will receive their just reward

Against you we are all soldiers

If they fall, our young heroes

France will bear new ones

Ready to join the fight against you

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors

Bear or hold back your blows

Spare these sad victims

Who with regret are taking up arms against us

But not these bloody despots

These accomplices of Bouillé

All these tigers who pitilessly

Are ripping open their mothers' breasts

We shall enter into the pit

When our elders will no longer be there

There we shall find their ashes

And the mark of their virtues

We are much less jealous of surviving them

Than of sharing their coffins

We shall have the sublime pride

Of avenging or joining them

Sacred Love for the Fatherland

Lead and support our avenging arms

Liberty, cherished liberty

Join the struggle with your defenders

Under our flags, let victory

hasten to you virile (or manly) force

So that in death your enemies

See your triumph and our glory!
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