Flag Of France: Origin, History And Meaning

The flag of France  is characterized by being tricolor and has three stripes arranged vertically and of equal size. From left to right, the colors that make up the flag are blue, white and red. The flag is known as Tricolor, and its model has been used by many other nations worldwide.

For this reason, it is considered one of the most influential in history. Throughout the country’s history, various flags have been used; the change has been influenced by the various revolutions and governments of France. However, the current design has been around since 1794.

Flag of France


The official origin of the current flag of France dates back to the end of the French Revolution in 1789. After the end of this event, emphasis was placed on highlighting the simplicity in the design of the flag to represent the radical changes it was going through. the country’s society.

Traditionally, blue and red have been the colors associated with the Parisian revolutionaries from the same city. White is an added color according to the historical proposal of the Marquis de La Fayette, a fundamental character of the French Revolution.

To a large extent, the revolutionaries were influenced by the white, red and blue flag of the Netherlands at the time, although the stripes were horizontal (as today). It was in 1790 that these three colors were used for the first time to represent the French navy.

However, in 1794 the use of the tricolor flag became official, not only for the navy but to represent the people and the army. Thanks to this, it came to be seen as a symbol that represented all the French values ​​of the Revolution, such as freedom, equality and fraternity.


In the Middle Ages , since the formal existence of the Kingdom of France, the country used the Saint Dennis flag known as Oriflama- as its main standard. It was a flag awarded by the pope to Charlemagne, the great European conqueror.

The banner that the warriors used in battle was a red flag, which represented the protection of the monarch. However, in 1328 the flag underwent one of the most significant changes in its history. The fleur de lis, the French symbol that is still associated with the country, began to be used.

The use of white in the French flag increased after the appearance of Joan of Arc, whose banner used this color and was the inspiration for future French war banners.

From the beginning of the 13th century to the beginning of the 19th century, the use of the fleur de lis was present in all the main variations of the flag of France. However, from the year 1789 she represented mainly royalty.

The Tricolor

The tricolor flag of France is used based on the cockade of the revolutionaries during the period of the French Revolution. Red and blue were the main colors of Paris and were present in its coat of arms.

During the storming of Bastille in 1789 various colors were used, but three days later a red and blue cockade was presented to the King of France.

White was incorporated into the flag to nationalize the design. Based on this proposal, the members of local militias and the police that supported the Revolution began to use this tricolor as their banner.

The tricolor flag was the first to represent the First Republic of France. However, after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Bourbons replaced the tricolor of France with an entirely white flag, with several fleurs-de-lis scattered throughout.

When Luis Felipe came to power, after the departure of the Crown by the Bourbons, he restored the tricolor as the official flag of the country. Since then it has been the main flag of France.

Alteration of 1848

There were a couple of weeks in 1848 in which the flag of France was altered by social changes. Many citizens called for a red flag to be established in its entirety, as a communist symbol. After this event, the order of the stripes on the flag was altered: red came to take the place of blue and vice versa.

However, this change was reversed two weeks later and no further modifications have been made to the flag since then.


After the establishment of the tricolor flag, it has had a high load of meaning throughout Europe. Although on several occasions it was proposed to modify the flag (and even use the color red only), this would have meant a loss of European identity in the eyes of many of its citizens.

Even after the fall of Emperor Napoleon III (who tried to establish the Second Mexican Empire), the throne was offered to a new Bourbon king. This accepted with the condition that the tricolor flag be eliminated to return to use the white flag of the Bourbons.

This last event led to the elimination of the notion of establishing a monarchy, as the idea of ​​discarding a flag that was a national symbol was impossible to accept. This made France remain a republic ever since, under the tricolor flag.


Like most of the world’s first national flags, the colors have no specific significance.

However, red and blue are associated with the city of Paris and throughout history white has come to be appreciated as the color of Bourbons. Blue represents the French values ​​of the Revolution.


  1. Flag of France, Whitney Smith, December 12, 2015. Taken from Britannica.com
  2. Flag of France, Wikipedia in English, April 22, 2018. Taken from wikipedia.org
  3. French colonial flags, Wikipedia in English, January 15, 2018. Taken from wikipedia.org
  4. Flag of France, World Atlas, (nd). Taken from worldatlas.com
  5. History of the French Flag, France This Way Website, (nd). Taken from francethisway.com
  6. Le Tricolor – The Flag of France, Linda Chambers, (nd). Taken from learn-french-help.com

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