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Last Updated: 12 February 2022


Before the French Revolution, the symbol of the Kingdom of France was the fleur-de-lis. In the 20th century, the French Republic adopted a coat of arms that appears on the French passports.  However, if the design is part of the National symbols of France, it is not considered an official coat of arms by the French Republic.


The origins of the Coat of Arms of the French Republic

Before the French Revolution the fleur-de-lis was the royal emblem:

The Fleur-de-Lis
The Fleur-de-Lis

The existence of a coat of arms in France is due to a request from the United Nations for a national copy from all member states to adorn the assembly hall. The design is not recognised by the Constitution and does not have legal status. The coat of arms appears on the cover of French passports alongside the words ‘Union Européenne’ and ‘République Française’.

Coat of Arms of France on a French Passport
Coat of Arms of France on a French Passport

The French coat of arms is made up of:

  • A wide shield surrounded by a lion-head and an eagle-head.
  • The shield bears the monogram “RF” (République Française).
  • An olive branch symbolising peace.
  • An oak branch symbolising everlastingness or wisdom.
  • The fasces, which is a symbol associated with the exercise of justice.

Armoiries de France


The Fasces

The Fasces (in French: faisceaux du licteur) is a tribute to the ancient Roman Republic (509-27 BC) and were used as a decorative feature as early as the 17th century under the reign of Louis XIII. They represent a bound bundle of wooden rods. An axe with its blade emerges from the rods.

This fasces is an image that power belongs to the people. According to the French Constitution, it symbolises the “unity and indivisibility of the Republic“.

During the First Republic (1792-1804), it was topped by the Phrygian cap.

The fasces also appears on the Great Seal of France where it is held by Liberty.

Grand Sceau de France
Grand Sceau de France – Great Seal of France

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About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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