This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

France: Registration flags for merchant ships (1814-1929), part 1

North of the river Loire

Last modified: 2002-10-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: arrondissement | registration flag |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

See also:


According to Pierre Charrié, Drapeaux et étendards du XIXe siècle [chr92], French merchant ships had to hoist a specific flag indicating where they were registered. This was indicated in the 1852 imperial [Napoleon III] regulations on naval flags, but had been instaured earlier.
Charrié's book has a black-and-white facsimile of the plate entitled Pavillons d'Arrondissements des Côtes de France (Arrondissement Flags of France Coasts), from Album des pavillons, guidons et flammes de toutes les puissances maritimes (Album of ensigns, pennants and wimpels of all maritime powers) by Legras (1858) [leg58]. Charrié gives also a textual description of the flags, probably extracted from the official regulation.

The French coasts were divided in 5 metropolitan maritime arrondissements, each of them being divided in 2 sectors, and two colonial sectors. (There are now only three "maritime regions", with Cherbourg, Brest and Toulon as prefectures.)

Commander Jean-Paul Redon provides additional information and sketches of these flags in Franciae Vexilla [frv] #7/53 (November 1997), unfortunately without citing his source (which is probably Grand Larousse Illustré du XXe siècle [6 vol., 1928]).
The arrrondissement flags were established by the royal regulation of 3 December 1817 [Louis XVIII] and might have been abolished only in 1929 [Third Republic]. They were hoisted at foremast.

Comparing with Legras' plate, there are minor differences in Redon's captions. There are also some significant differences in the colours of the flags of the two arrondissements of Cherbourg and Rochefort. I do not know if the colours were changed by regulation. I would rather assume that the colours may have been altered on printed plates and percepted differently by P. Charrié and J.P. Redon.

In the following, incl. means that the cited place is included in the sector, excl. that it is excluded, as mentioned on Legras' plate. For example, a ship registered in Honfleur should have hoisted a swallow-tail but not a triangle flag.
Arrondissements are listed starting from North and going anticlockwise, as in Legras' plate. Arrondissements north of the river Loire are listed below, whereas arrondissements south of the river Loire and overseas are listed here.

Ivan Sache, 6 November 1999

Grand Larousse Illustré du XXe siècle (6 vol., 1928) gives the following definition for these flags:

Pavillon indiquant à quelle zone militaire appartient telle partie des côtes de France.

i.e., Flag showing to which military zone belongs a given part of the French coasts.

Ivan Sache, 18 November 2000

Cherbourg arrondissement

From Dunkirk (Dunkerque) to Honfleur, incl.

[Dunkirk sector]by Ivan Sache

J.P. Redon reports "From Belgian border" instead of "From Dunkirk", and a blue instead of green flag. Note that Belgium did not exist before 1830.

[Dunkirk sector variant]by Ivan Sache

From Honfleur to Granville, excl.

[Honfleur sector]by Ivan Sache

J.P. Redon reports here again a blue instead of green flag.

[Honfleur sector variant]by Ivan Sache

Brest arrondissement

From Granville to Morlaix, excl.

[Granville sector]by Ivan Sache

From Morlaix to Quimper, excl.

[Morlaix sector]by Ivan Sache

Lorient arrondissement

From Quimper to Lorient, incl.

[Quimper arrondissement]by Ivan Sache

From Lorient to the left (south) bank of Loire river, incl.

[Lorient sector]by Ivan Sache


To be continued...

CHANNELS :: Compare Country infoCountry guide & StudyFlagsMapsSightseeingTravel WarningsHotel Directory DESTINATIONS :: AsiaAfricaCaribbean Middle EastNorth AmericaSouth AmericaCentral AmericaOceania PacificEuropePolar Regions UTILITIES :: WeatherWorld TimeISD CodesTravel Links Link Exchange
DestinationsMonuments WONDERS :: AncientModernNatural | Privacy Policy