National Symbols of the French Fifth Republic - French Flag. Photo by SteveAllenPhoto999 via Envato Elements
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Last Updated: 27 July 2023

Since its foundation in 1958, the French Fifth Republic has played a crucial role in how France is governed. It's like the foundation of their political system. But it's not just about politics; it's also about representing what makes France unique. They have some really cool symbols and emblems that show what the country stands for.

For example, you've probably seen the French flag with three colours: blue, white, and red. It's called the Tricolour, a symbol of unity and pride for the French people. 

And France has a powerful anthem called "La Marseillaise" that brings everyone together during critical events.

Another important symbol is Marianne, who represents the spirit of France. You might have seen her on statues or paintings. She stands for liberty, equality, and fraternity, essential values for the French.

Oh, and let's remember the Gallic Rooster! It's like the national mascot, a symbol of courage and bravery.

In this article, we'll explore the history of the Fifth Republic, how it works, and the crucial moments that have shaped France's political landscape. We'll also learn why it's not just a bunch of rules but something that reflects the heart and soul of the French people.

So, let's journey into the world of the French Fifth Republic and discover why it's vital for the French government and a meaningful part of the French identity as a nation.

🎦 Watch our short video on Bastille Day, the events of the 14th July 1789 that led to the creation of the French Republic ⤵

The French Fifth Republic

The French Fifth Republic is a political and constitutional system in France. It was established in 1958 in response to a significant political and institutional crisis.

Over its decades, the Fifth Republic has witnessed historic moments, major reforms and the political evolution of France. Thanks to its semi-presidential system, which combines the strength of the President of the Republic with the representativeness of parliament, it has been able to guarantee the institutional stability that is essential for the proper functioning of the State.

Here is a simple explanation of its origins and how it works:

Origins of the French Fifth Republic

The Fifth Republic was created in 1958 by General Charles de Gaulle, a hero of the Second World War. At the time, France was facing repeated political conflict and governmental instability. The Fifth Republic was designed to bring greater stability and strong executive power and avoid the political gridlock that had previously paralysed the country.

Charles de Gaulle © La Documentation française. Photo Jean-Marie Marcele

Charles de Gaulle © La Documentation française. Photo Jean-Marie Marcele

Description of the French Fifth Republic

The Fifth Republic is a semi-presidential political system which combines a powerful president with a parliament with legislative powers. The main elements of the Fifth Republic are as follows:

The President of the French Republic

Le Président de la République française

The President is the Head of State and France's representative on the international stage. He is elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term. The President has extensive powers, such as appointing the Prime Minister, chairing the Council of Ministers, dissolving the National Assembly (the lower house of parliament) and other prerogatives relating to security and diplomacy.

French President - Palais de l'Elysée
The Prime Minister

Le Premier ministre

The President appoints the Prime Minister to lead the government and implement national policies. He or she is usually the leader of the majority political party in the National Assembly.

The Prime Minister resides in the Hôtel Matignon in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.

Hôtel Matignon Paris © French Moments
The Government

Le Gouvernement

The government includes the Prime Minister, ministers and secretaries of state. It is responsible for implementing the laws and policies the President and Parliament decide.

French flag on Grand Palais © French Moments
The Parliament

Le Parlement

The French parliament is bicameral, consisting of two chambers: the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) and the Senate (Sénat).

The National Assembly is elected by direct universal suffrage and plays a key role in legislation and oversight of the government.

The Senate represents local authorities and forms the upper house of the French Parliament.

Palais Bourbon Paris © French Moments
The Constitution

Le Constitution

The Fifth Republic is governed by a constitution that defines each institution's powers and responsibilities and citizens' rights.

How France got its name Featured Image [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

How the French Fifth Republic works

  • In the Fifth Republic, the President and government exercise executive power, while parliament has legislative power. 
  • The President is elected directly by the people and has considerable political leeway.
  • The prime minister and government are accountable to the National Assembly, which means that if they lose the support of the parliamentary majority, they may be forced to resign.

In short, the French Fifth Republic is a political system in which the President plays a key role, with strong executive power, while parliament legislates and controls the government. This system was designed to ensure stable and effective governance in France.

The National Library of France (François Mitterrand) in the 13th arrt © French Moments

The National Library of France (François Mitterrand) in the 13th arrt © French Moments

Emblems of the French Fifth Republic

The national emblems of the French Republic are:

The French Flag

The French flag is known as the Tricolour and is blue-white-red.

Le Marché of Heathfield © French Moments

The French flag © French Moments

National Anthem

France's national anthem is La Marseillaise.

Marseillaise Partition


Marianne is an allegorical figure of the French Republic.

Eugène Delacroix - La liberté guidant le peuple detail 2

Marianne and the French Republic by Eugène Delacroix

The National Motto

France's national motto is "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité".

French Motto on School Facade © French Moments

French Motto on a Paris School © French Moments

The Great Seal of France

The Great Seal of France depicts Liberty in the guise of a seated Juno, wearing a crown of seven-pointed laurels.

Grand Sceau de France

The great seal of France

Symbols of the French Fifth Republic

Several symbols also represent France:

The National Day

France's National Day occurs on the 14th of July and is known as "Bastille Day" in English-speaking countries.

Bastille Day © French Moments

The Gallic Rooster

The choice of the rooster as the emblem refers to Gaul, using the Latin play on the words "gallus" (cockerel) and "Gallus" (Gaul).

Elysee Gate Rooster © French Moments

The rooster of the Elysée Palace Gate © French Moments

The capital letters RF

The capital letters "RF", meaning the French Republic, form a monogram that has long been used as a logo and still appears on many public buildings.

République Française RF © French Moments

RF for République Française (Town-Hall of Maisons-Laffitte) © French Moments

The French coat of arms and the Fasces

This unofficial emblem is comprised of a pelta, a lictor bundle and oak and olive branches. It is used by the President of the Republic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It appears on the cover of passports, French identity cards and family record books, and the watermark on credit card-sized identity cards.

Armoiries de France

Coat of Arms of the French Republic

The French President

The President of the French Fifth Republic resides in the Elysée Palace, in the centre of Paris.

Top 10 Things to know about the French President

The honorary titles of the Republic

The honorary titles of the French Fifth Republic include the National Order of the Legion of Honour and the National Order of Merit.

Grand collier de la Légion d'honneur

Grand collier de la Légion d'honneur

Popular Symbols of French Culture

Many other symbols represent the nation of France and contribute to its identity. They are cultural, historical and artistic elements such as:

About to eat a French croissant near Lure (Haute-Saône) © French Moments

About to eat a French croissant near Lure (Haute-Saône) © French Moments

Eiffel Tower © French Moments

Eiffel Tower in winter © French Moments

statue of Napoleon Les Invalides

Statue of Napoleon at Les Invalides, Paris © French Moments

Art Nouveau Cupola in the Galeries Lafayette

The Great Hall and the perfume section of Galeries Lafayette © French Moments

France During Political Unrest. Source:

France During Political Unrest. Source:

Gems of Paris by French Moments
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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