About the French flag

The national flag of France is a tricolor featuring three vertical bands colored blue (hoist side), white, and red. It is known to English speakers as the French tricolor or simply, the tricolor, although Tricolore (in the French pronunciation) is far from unknown.

The blue and red of the flag have been the colors of Paris since 1358 when they were used by the followers of Etienne Marcel, the leader of a Parisian revolt against the King of France and the Dauphin. In 1794, the Convention officially adopted the tricolor, the Commander of the Guard, Lafayette, having reputedly added the royal white between the blue and the red.

Meanings have subsequently been ascribed to the colors. It is sometimes said - and taught in French schools - that the colors of the French flag represent the three main estates of the Ancien Regime (the clergy: white, the nobility: red and the bourgeoisie: blue). Blue, as the symbol of the bourgeoisie, comes first within the color enumeration and red, representing the nobility, comes last. Both extreme colors are situated on each side of white referring to a superior order. If it is true that blue was the color of the bourgeoisie during medieval times, the white color may be linked to Joan of Arc (a first use, with a lamb) and later, along with the Fleur de Lys, to the monarchy.