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Paris (Department and Municipality, France)

Last modified: 2006-03-04 by ivan sache
Keywords: paris | ile-de-france | fleur-de-lys (yellow) | ship (white) | crown (mural) | mayor | eiffel tower |
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[Flag of Paris]

Municipal flag of Paris - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 2 January 2002

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Administrative data

Code: 75
Region: Ile-de-France
Traditional province: Ile-de-France
Bordering departments: Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne

Area: 105 km2
Population (1995): 2,130,900 inhabitants

The city of Paris has been a department since 1964. It was formerly part of the department of Seine (75).

A short presentation of Paris

In the Roman era, Paris was known as Lutetia and was the capital city of the Parisii Gaul tribe. The name Paris seems to have appeared in the IIIrd century only. The saint patron of the city is St. Geneviève, who protected the city against the Huns in 451.
The expansion of the city really started with the Capetian dynasty (987). In the XIIth century, King Philippe-Auguste ordered the building of a second wall around the city; the first Halles (market) and the cathedral Notre-Dame were also built at that time. The University of Paris was founded in 1215 and the building of the Sorbonne started in 1257.
The Parisians always had difficult relationships with the King of France, and popular riots and revolts have been numerous, for instance:

  • In 1356-1358, during the Hundred Years' War, the prévôt des marchands Etienne Marcel (a kind of Mayor) revolted against the Dauphin Charles;
  • On 24 August 1572, known as the St. Barthelémy's night, the Protestants were slaughtered in their houses and the streets of the city;
  • In 1588, King Henri III had to leave Paris under the pressure of the Ligue led by the nobles who got the support of the Parisians.

Most of the important historical and political events of the XVIIIth, XIXth and XXth centuries started or took place in Paris (the French Revolution, changes of political regime, the Commune...).

In 1841-1845, a new surrounding wall was built (later destroyed) and in June 1859, 11 neighbouring municipalities were incorporated to Paris. Paris is now divided into arrondissements (districts), whose number increased in 1860 from 12 to 20.

The administrative status of Paris was changed on 31 December 1975: Paris is a territorial collectivity with both the status of municipality and department. In 1977, Jacques Chirac was elected Mayor and reigned over Paris for nearly 20 years. His successor Jean Tiberi was not able to keep the municipality under the administration of Conservative parties, and the Socialist Bertrand Delanoé succeeded him in 2000.

Ivan Sache, 2 January 2002

Municipal flag of Paris

The flag of Paris is vertically divided blue-red, with or without the coat of arms of the city in the middle. The proportion of the flag is 2:3. Blue and red are the traditional colours of the city. The arrondissements of the city have coats of arms.
The image shown above was drawn after a document communicated by the municipal administration.

Pascal Vagnat & Arnaud Leroy, 2 January 2002

Flag of the Mayor of Paris

[Mayor of Paris]

Flag of the Mayor of Paris - Image by Jaume Ollé, 16 March 1998

The flag of the Mayor of Paris, adopted on 20 March 1977, is divided diagonally (per bend) blue and red. On the obverse, there is the greater coat of arms of Paris, slightly different of the coat of arms for normal use. The shield is red with a golden ship and blue water charged with a wavy line gold. The chief is charged with three gold fleurs de lys. The border of the shield, the mural crown and the ribbon, the two branches of oak and laurel, as well as the three decorations are fimbriated in gold. The motto FLUCTUAT NEC MERGITUR appears in white. On the reverse (diagonally divided per bend sinister) appear the words VILLE DE PARIS in golden letters. The dimensions of the flag are 35 cm x 40 cm and it has a golden fringe. The flag has a blue and red ribbon, golden fringed too.

Source: Lucien Philippe, Emblèmes et pavillons [eep], #9, February 1987.

Pascal Vagnat, 16 March 1998

The Paris National Guard during the French Revolution (1789-1792)

Between 1789 and 1792, each of the (then) 60 districts of Paris had its National Guard unit, with its own flag. The design of these flags was based on combinations of tricolour and traditional white-crossed flags.
These flags were called, however, "flag of the district of ..." and not "flag of the National Guard of the district of ...".
The central districts were very small. For instance, the Louvre, the Palais-Royal and the Tuileries garden were in three different districts (St. Roch, St. Honoré, and Feuillants, respectively), even if there is only 20 meters between the Louvre and the Palais-Royal, and 0 meter between Louvre and Tuileries...
The districts disappear in 1792 (when exactly?), and so did probably their flags. The districts were replaced by 48 sections under the Convention.

Jérôme Sterkers, 8 September 2000

These flags are shown in the book Les Drapeaux de la Garde Nationale de Paris en 1789, text by Commandant Henry Lachouque, ten plates of soldiers holding flags by Gérard Blanckaert (19 flags per plate), Les Editons Militaires Illustrées, Paris, 1947.
The flags are square and slightly larger than the height of a man. The colors are red, white and blue though there are light, medium and dark shades of blue and red. The colors are arrayed in a variety of geometric patterns with allegorical figures and patterns overall.

Arthur W. Etchells, 17 September 2000

The liberation of Paris (1944)

On 14 June 1940, Captain Lucien Sarniguet, commander of the station house Dupleix, was forced by the occupying Germlan forces to remove the French national flag from the top of the Eiffel tower. He swore he would avenge the affront, which he did during the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944.

On 25 August 2004, a commando of six firemen reenacted the climbing of the 1,760 steps of the stairs and the hoisting of the flag on the top of the Eiffel tower. Among the reenactors was Adjudant-Chef Robert Duriaux, aged 53, whose father Henri, then aged 60, was a member of the heroic commando of 1944. Henri Duriaux was member of the Paris Fire Brigade from 1934 to 1963 but never told his family he had been a member of the commando. He kept for 30 years in his wallet a picture showing him with the commando, which was inadvertently found by his son in 1986, a few years before his death. Duriaux considered he had done nothing but carrying on his duty and refused to be honoured for his act.

In the middle of August 1944, the wifes of the firemen of the Dupleix station house made themselves the flag with six bedsheets stitched together, two of them being dyed in blue and another two being dyed in red. On the morning of 25 August, Captain Sarniguet decided to hoist the flag and asked five volunteers to join him. At noon, the French national flag was hoisted over Paris after 1,532 days of ban. It must be stressed that the Germans had not capitulated yet and that the commando climbed under fire.

In the 1980s, Robert Duriaux was able to locate all the members of the commando and published a series of papers on their act. A first commemoration was organized in 1994. Today, only two members of the commando are still alive, Sergent Pierre Noël, who attended the 2004 ceremony, and André Taillefer, who could not come because of health problems. The Mayor of Paris officially asked Robert Duriaux to present the Great Silver medal of the city of Paris to André Taillefer.

Source: L'Union de Reims

Ivan Sache, 4 September 2004