|The national flag of France (known in French as drapeau tricolore, drapeau bleu-blanc-rouge, drapeau français, rarely, le tricolore and, in military parlance, les couleurs) is a tricolour featuring three vertical bands coloured blue (hoist side), white, and red.
The national flag of France is known to English speakers as the French tricolor (American English), the French tricolour (British English), or the tricolore. The flag is also known as The Reunionese flag, or The Reunion's flag where it is used as the flag of the overseas department of France in Southern Africa.
The red and blue colours of the flag are now officially PANTONE "Reflex Blue" and PANTONE "Red 032", or RGB (0,85,164) and (239,65,53), or CMYK (100,73,0,2) and (0,90,86,0). These were adopted by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, replacing the previous darker version of the flag.
For many years the three stripes of the flag were not equally wide, being in the proportions 30 (blue), 33 (white) and 37 (red), the same proportions as the former flag of Paris. French naval ensign below.
The theory was that if they were equal then the white stripe, being brighter, would appear disproportionately wider to the human eye.
This was changed to equal width by Napoleon, although by a regulation dated 17 May 1853 (?), the navy went back to using the 30:33:37 proportions, which they continue to use.
Léon Cogniet, Scenes of July 1830, a painting alluding to the July revolution of 1830. The flag of the Ancien Régime (white background with fleur de lis), teared and soiled with blood, turns into the tricolour flag of the Constitutional Monarchy.
During the Ancien Régime, the flag of Saint-Denis was used -- red, with 2, 3 or 5 spikes.
Originally, is was the personal flag of Charlemagne, given to him by the Pope. Over the time, it became the royal banner under the Carolingians and the Capetians. It was stored in Saint-Denis abbey, where it was taken when war broke out.
There are many theories and suppositions about the choice of colours and indeed Lafayette's involvement in the process. One theory says that Lafayette was inspired by the colours used by the American revolutionaries; another that the French design and scheme originated with the Dutch flag - the first European tricolour.
Flag of a regiment of the Napoleonic era (3rd Swiss regiment), with the blue and red patrs in the corner, and the white part as a losange bearing inscriptions
Even when the three colours had been used - for example by the army in 1791 and by the National Guard after 1789 - they were often used creatively.
For example, at the Battle of Arcole Napoleon brandished a white standard, with a golden fasces lictoriae in the centre (a symbol of the former Roman Republic), and four red and blue lozenges at the corners.
The vertical striped flag was adopted by the army in 1812, replacing the previous flags which were often a white cross on red and blue.
The flag of France represented a new revolutionary movement; as such, it influenced many other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Norway and Romania. The flag of the Acadians is based on the French flag.