France Secretly Changed Its Flag’s Blue A Year Ago And Practically No One Noticed

It’s literally been waving at people but they didn’t pay heed. The blue in the French flag is now navy, reverting to the shade used before 1976 to remember the Revolution.

The exterior of the Elysée Palace, along with other presidential buildings, has been sporting the look for a year unannounced. The refresh was only made public with the publication of the book Elysée Confidentiel by journalists Eliot Blondet and Paul Larrouturou in mid-September, which recounts how the color had been so abruptly swapped, euronews reports.

Arnaud Jolens, the Elysée’s director of operations, had walked into President Emmanuel Macron’s office on the eve of the country’s National Day in 2020 bringing two variations of the flag—the post-1976 version and this one—and then declared: “By the way, I’m changing the flags on all the buildings of the presidency tomorrow.” Macron smiled.

Navy blue honors “the imagination of the Volunteers of Year II, the Poilus of 1914 and the Compagnons de la Libération of Free France,” the French Presidency details. The Volunteers of Year II were France’s first citizen army who, in 1791, volunteered to protect French territory from a threatened Prussian/Austrian invasion post-Revolution (hence the term “Year II.”)

This was the shade of the tri-colored flag up to 45 years before, and the same one flown under the Arc de Triomphe every year on Armistice Day on November 11.

The blue was later brightened to match the one in the European Union flag, a decision made by former president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

Decades after, the French presidency has readopted the classic navy. The switch of flags across presidential landmarks cost €5,000.

Macron was evidently pleased by the decision. “The flag that all the presidents have been dragging around since [1976] was not the real French flag,” the book explains, describing the details of the conversation between Macron and Jolens.

Source: DesignTAXI