cannes mairie

Flags on the Cannes Town Hall for VE Day

The national flag of France was designed in 1794 and having been through a few variations over the years its design was definitively written into the constitution in 1958.  It comprises three equal vertical bands of blue, white and red starting from the flag pole.  It is known as the Tricolour or le Tricolore.

     drapeau roquefort les pins

The Tricolour, European and town flag outside the Mairie in Roquefort les Pins

National flags serve as potent patriotic symbols and France displays its patriotism by hanging flags on all public buildings such as Mairies (town halls), schools and court houses etc.  The Tricolour is often combined with the European and the town’s own or regional flags.  During public holidays that commemorate war, flags are prominently displayed on war memorials and sometimes other public spaces like bridges.  Even buses can be decked out with little ones.  This also happens for the National Day on the 14th of July. The Tricolour is always draped behind the President of the Republic when he addresses the nation and it is raised every day in Army barracks across the country.  But what you will never see, unlike in the USA and many parts of northern Europe (Scandinavia in particular), is flags on private buildings/homes, not even during big sporting events. I found it surprising to discover, when researching this piece, that not only is it a crime to desecrate the French flag in a public place, but also to distribute images of a flag desecration, even when done in a private setting.  Serious stuff!


The flag flying outside the beautiful Lycée Masséna in Nice

The French are a great sporting nation and love supporting their national teams by dressing in bleu, blanc, rouge and waving their flag.  My family is composed of three different nationalities/cultures and we are happy to reflect this when at an international sporting event.  We’ve been lucky enough to have the mighty Tour de France pass through the area twice in recent years and have decked ourselves out in the Australian, British and French flags, cheering on riders from all three countries. They were great occasions to get all patriotic and proudly support our three nations.

                    multicultural family

walking to see the Tour de France

We also had the great fortune to go to the London Olympics in 2012.  We travelled light and forgot to pack flags, so counted on buying some more at the venue.  This was not a problem for the British flag (obviously) and the Aussie one too but there were no French flags!  Now I know France can often be accused of exaggerating its own importance in the world, but I don’t think it’s expecting too much to think there would be a supply of Tricolours in the enormous souvenir shop along with flags from tiny South Pacific island nations, barely-heard-of central Asian republics, minute European Principalities et al.  We assumed they must have just run out of stock but no, we were told they didn’t carry the French flag!  So much for the Entente Cordiale….It has to be said this was the only negative in an otherwise amazing and memorable day and luckily for my tri-cultural boys they had other flags to carry.

     London Olympics

at the London Olympics without a French flag

Over to you.  What can you tell me about your flag?  Is it prominently displayed in the country where you live?  Do you know its history?  Do you own a flag?  I’d love to hear from you.


the local school’s flag with no wind!


This post was written for the MKB Multicultural Carnival hosted by Kid World Citizen, the theme being “flags”.

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