The French Flag

The French flag (Le drapeau Français has three colors and is known as the tricolore. The three equally sized vertical bands are blue (bleu), white (blanc) and red (rouge). The width of the flag is 2/3 of the height. Dating back t 1794, the French flag is one of the oldest flags.

The colors were taken from the cockades, worn during the French Revolution. A cockade is a circular rosette-like emblem, worn on a hat.


Members of the militia who stormed the Bastille wore red and blue cockades (Parisienne colors) on their hats. White was added for a national look. White was the color of the royal house of Bourbon. Blue and red are the colors in the coat of arms for Paris. Blue is identified with St. Martin and red with St. Denis.


Tricolore

The tricolore is a national symbol of freedom. The colors have come to symbolize liberty (liberté), equality (égalité) and fraternity (fraternité) which is the motto of France, originating during the French revolution. Other countries promoting these ideals have used the same colors.

France is very patriotic and you will see the French flag displayed a lot in France. It is displayed on all public buildings, historical monuments and is part of most official ceremonies. It is the backdrop for the French president, when addressing the public.

History

During the middle ages a red banner with spikes was used by Charlemagne. Later the fleur-de-lis, the symbol of France, was added along with the royal coat of arms. Subsequently, when the Bourbons took the throne, the white color was added to represent the monarchy.

During the French revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette wore the red and blue cockade and added white for nationalism. In 1790, naval flags in red, white and blue were used, however the order of the colors was reversed. The flag design was modified by the artist Jacques-Louis David and it was officially adopted by the Convention on February 15, 1794. In 1804 the Tricolor became the flag of France, with the blue on the hoist side and then the white and red. When Napoleon was defeated, the flag was changed by the Bourbon monarchy to white, with fleur-de-lis. It was restored in 1830 during the revolution. During WWII the Vichy regime used the Tricolore, while the Free French Forces added a red cross of Lorraine. The constitutions of 1946 and 1958 instituted the "blue, white and red" flag as the national emblem of the Republic of France.

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