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.
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.
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.
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”.
Hi Joe, thanks for your comment. I’m amazed so many Francophiles and even Frenchies didn’t know the term Tricolore, it really is commonly used in France but I’m pleased you found this useful. You’ve slightly misunderstood though. It isn’t illegal to display to the flag on a private property, it’s illegal to desecrate the flag in public and illegal to distribute images of desecrating a flag even if that desecration is taking place on private property.
Loved your post. I found it as part of a search regarding the term le tricoulour. I had been under the impression that it was a long standing nickname for the French flag, in the same way that the American flag is often referred to as “Old Glory”.
I live in Augusta, Georgia, USA and following the despicable terrorist attack on St. Denis last week, I noticed a French flag flying next to the street on one of our main boulevards in front of their house (I assume in solidarity with the victims and people of France). I mentioned seeing it to our church choir director who is a devoted Francophile (belongs to a French club and speaks fluent French). She was totally unfamiliar with the term “tricoulour”–I even had to spell it for her. I then spoke to a lady at our church who is a native Frenchwoman, married to an American. She also professed ignorance?!!!!
I was also flabbergasted to learn from your post that it is a crime to display the French flag on a private residence. Here in America, it is considered ultra patriotic to display our flag almost everywhere.
I’m sure the whole flag issue is quite different in a country that’s had troubles, thanks for commenting and bringing this to my attention.
Yes it’s fun being a tri-national family, there’s lots to celebrate. 🙂
I’m sure it’s a lot more than “half” who don’t realise there’s a correct way up Richard!
I’m selective at taking photos only in good weather Kanchan, it’s certainly not always sunny….but we do have an awful lot of it I must admit, and I love it! It’s not hard to only take photos in good weather here that’s for sure! Thanks for your lovely comment.
No Debbie, we asked whether they had just sold out and they catagorically said NO they just didn’t stock French flags!!
Americans seem much more attached to their flag than Brits I reckon.
I bet it will too!
I imagine the Spanish flag is very dear to your heart as your son was born there.
Wasn’t it just wierd? Thanks for commenting Becky.
Thanks for stopping by, yes we complement each other nicely. I’ll share your post too! 🙂
You wrote a great post about the French flag… that totally complete mine! Great minds connected, don’t you think?
I’m going to share your post asap!
And I really don’t have a clue why we don’t raise the flag in our own houses…
This is wonderful- I love seeing the differences between the countries as to when they hang or use their flags. How odd that you couldn’t find one at the Olympics!?
What an interesting post – I have always wondered why flags are designed in certain ways!
I know absolutely nothing about either the British flag or St George flag! I lived is Spain for 7 years where my eldest was born so do feel an attachment to their flag too x
I know nothing about our flag, but I may go and look it up as I am sure with an inquisitive toddler it will come up eventually!
Growing up in the USA, we learn about the American flag. But having lived in the UK for 13 years, I don’t really know that much about the British flag.
I’m quite patriotic and use any excuse I can to wave a flag. It is a bit of a sore subject here in Northern Ireland, and there were mass protests last year when the union flag was removed from the city hall in Belfast.
It is very interesting to read about the flags of other countries, and what the flag symbolises or means to the people of that country.
Maybe they had sold out of French flags 😉
I seem to recall our French text books were called ‘Tricolore’ (might need to phone my mum!).
A great read, it is so good for us and our little ones to understand our culture.
Love that yours benefit from three!
I have to confess my ignorance like other commenters, fascinating stuff as always, I love this LAB group!
Good to be back in your part of the world! Lovely post…as always, love the pictures, the sunshine..isn’t it unfair that you’ll seem perennially wrapped in the good stuff?! 🙂 Lovely that you and yours have been so immersed in int’l events. I always believe that wherever you like, you must try to assimilate and take the best bits of their culture. I’ve loved living everywhere I have..and have retained a lot of the identity I made for myself whilst living there.
I don’t have a clue about our flags, I don’t think we tend to use them in the same way! Great that you can celebrate all of your different nationalities as a family.
Yes, we had flags made (in Hanoi) for all the nationalities at the wedding. There were at least 10 but I don’t remember exactly how many. The lack of French flags at the Olympics was very odd.
Thanks. We love having 3 nationalities to embrace! 🙂
How interesting to hear that you learnt about this in your French classes.
Ah ha, that’s just what I was saying, that kids still learn about flags which helps us parents to learn to!
I didn’t know about the Tricolour until I researched it for this post, I think most people nowadays don’t know much about their flag. Perhaps just a little through helping a child’s school project, but that’s about it.
Super pictures! Oh I have just realised how ignorant I am about the Union Jack x
You make 2 interesting points. It never occurred to me that perhaps that’s why you’ll never see a private flag, owing to the desecration laws. And I also never thought about the Union Jack…It’ll be interesting to see what happens if Scotland leaves the Union. Thanks for bringing these up.
The French, sensibly enough, have a flag that cannot be flown upside down. You’d think that people who increasingly fly union jacks all over the place would know which way up they go. But half of them seem not to.
I remember the flags at your wedding. No French flags at the Olympics, I wonder why.
What an interesting article! Must be quite nice having all these nationalities to embrace!xx
That’s really interesting although I am still surprised that people don’t fly the flag on their own homes. Unless of course they’d be the ones held accountable should someone else desecrate the flag?
All I know about the Union Jack is that it comprises of the St Andrew, St George and St Patrick flags. It would be interesting to know how it will change if Scotland decides to become independent, I’d assume the background will just be white.
Really interesting, we had to learn about this when we were learning French in school. I didn’t appreciate it then like I do now!
Lovely post and photos! Isabelle my eldest loves learning about all the flags belonging to different countries. I think it’s good for them to know x
Is it awful that I don’t know much about our Union Jack? *runs off to read Wikipedia**