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France: Registration flags for merchant ships (1817-1929)

Pavillons d'arrondissement

Last modified: 2021-07-04 by ivan sache
Keywords: registration flag |
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Legislation

French coasts were formerly divided in five maritime arrondissements, each divided in two sectors. Colonies were divided into two sectors.
French merchant ships had to hoist at foremast a specific flag indicating in which arrondissement they were registered. These flags were established by a Royal Regulation issued on 3 December 1817 by Louis XVIII. They were confirmed in the Imperial Regulations on naval flags issued in 1852 by Napoléon III and by Decree issued on 20 March 1868.

All ships shall be registered on the roll hold in the maritime quarters.
The French ensign shall be hoisted on stern and, if there is no flag mast, on the mizzen horn.
A specific flag, true to the model shown in the Appendix to Regulation issued on 3 December 1817, shall be assigned to each maritime arrondissement. This flag shall be hoisted on top of the mainmast.
Shipowners must announce to the office of the Seamen's Register the house flags they want to use. They may use them only after notification, which shall be registered and mentioned on the ship muster roll. The house flag shall be hoisted on top of the foremast.

The flags are illustrated in Album des pavillons, guidons, flammes de toutes les puissances maritimes (1858), the first of a long series of flag books released by the French Navy. For each arrondissement, the two sectors had flags with the same colors but arranged differently.
Still shown in Grand Larousse Illustré du XXe siècle (1928), the flags were probably abolished in 1929.

Ivan Sache & Dominique Cureau, 22 September 2020


Cherbourg arrondissement

[Flag]         [Flag]

Flags of the Cherbourg arrondissement - Images by Ivan Sache, 11 July 2000
Left, Dunkirk-Honfleur (included) sector
Right, Honfleur-Granville (excluded) sector

The colors of the Cherbourg arrondissement were blue and white, arranged in a swallow-tailed, horizontally divided blue-white-blue-white flag for the Dunkirk-Honfleur (included) sector, and in a triangular, vertically divided blue-white-blue flag for the Honfleur-Granville (excluded) sector.

Ivan Sache, 12 March 2005


Brest arrondissement

[Flag]         [Flag]

Flags of the Brest arrondissement - Images by Ivan Sache, 11 July 2000
Left, Granville-Morlaix (excluded) sector
Right, Morlaix-Quimper (excluded) sector

The colors of the Brest arrondissement were blue and yellow, arranged in a swallow-tailed, vertically divided blue-yellow-blue-yellow flag for the Granville-Morlaix (excluded) sector, and in a triangular, vertically divided blue-yellow flag for the Morlaix-Quimper (excluded) (excluded) sector.

Ivan Sache, 12 March 2005


Lorient arrondissement

[Flag]         [Flag]

Flags of the Lorient arrondissement - Images by Ivan Sache, 11 July 2000
Left, Quimper-Lorient (included) sector
Right, Lorient-Left (South) bank of river Loire (included) sector

The colors of the Lorient arrondissement were blue and red, arranged in a swallow-tailed, horizontally divided blue-red-blue flag for the Quimper-Lorient (included) sector, and in a triangular, horizontally divided blue-red flag for the Lorient-Left (South) bank of river Loire (included) sector.

Ivan Sache, 12 March 2005


Rochefort rrondissement

[Flag]         [Flag]

Flags of the Rochefort arrondissement - Images by Ivan Sache, 11 July 2000
Left, Left (South) bank of river Loire-Royan (included) sector
Right, Royan-Spanish border sector

The colors of the Rochefort arrondissement were green and white, arranged in a swallow-tailed, horizontally divided green-white-green flag for the Left (South) bank of river Loire-Royan (included) sector, and in a triangular, green with two white triangles placed vertically along the hoist flag for the Royan-Spanish border sector.

Ivan Sache, 12 March 2005


Toulon arrondissement

[Flag]         [Flag]

Flags of the Toulon arrondissement - Images by Ivan Sache, 11 July 2000
Left, Spanish border-Marseilles (included) sector
Right, Marseilles-Piedmontese border sector

The colors of the Toulon arrondissement, which covered the whole Mediterranean coast, were white and red, arranged in a swallow-tailed, horizontally divided white-red-white-red flag for the Spanish border-Marseilles (included) sector, and in a triangular, red with two white triangles placed vertically along the hoist flag for the Marseilles-Piedmontese border sector .

Ivan Sache, 12 March 2005


Colonies

[Flag]

[Flag]

Flags of the colonies - Images by Ivan Sache, 27 January 2007
Top, Western colonies
Bottom, Eastern and African colonies

The flag of the Western colonies was quartered blue-yellow.
The flag is shown on Norie & Hobbs's flag chart (1848) [noh48] for "French Colonies, Western", in Bromme's Flaggen und Atlas (1862) [bmm62] for "French West Indies Colonies", and on a cigarette card from the Allen & Ginter's Cigarette Cards album "N9 Flags of all Nations" []. IT was, however, only used for registration propose, the only colonial ensign being the French tricolor ensign.

The flag of the Eastern and African colonies is vertically divided yellow-red.
The flag is shown on Norie & Hobbs's flag chart (1848) [noh48] for "French Colonies, African & Eastern" and in Bromme's Flaggen und Atlas (1862) [bmm62] for "French East Indies Colonies". A color plate of uknown origin shows the flag, erroneously, as vertically divided red-yellow.

Ivan Sache, Nozomi Kariyasu, Tomislav Šipek & Dominique Cureau, 27 January 2007


 
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