Ordre national du Mérite

Ordre national du Mérite
Ordre National du Mérite
Ordre national du Mérite img 2534.jpg
Insignia of a Knight of the Ordre national du Mérite
Awarded by  France
Type Order with five degrees:
Grand'croix (grand cross)
Grand officier (grand officer)
Commandeur (commander)
Officier (officer)
Chevalier (knight)
Awarded for Distinguished civil and military achievements
Status Active
Established 3 December 1963
Knights 151,900
Officers 31,807
Commanders 5,269
Grand Officers 313
Grand Cross 142.
Next (higher) Médaille militaire
Next (lower) Croix de guerre
National Order of Merit Grand Cross Ribbon.png

National Order of Merit Grand Officer Ribbon.png
Grand Officier
National Order of Merit Commander Ribbon.png
National Order of Merit Officer Ribbon.png
Fr Nat Order of Merit ribbon.jpg
Ribbon bars of the order

The Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit) is an Order of State awarded by the President of the French Republic. It was founded on 3 December 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle. The reason of the Order’s establishment was twofold: to replace the large number of ministerial Orders previously awarded by the ministries; and to create an award that can be awarded at a lower level than the Legion of Honour.

French nationals as well as nationals of foreign countries, men and women, can be received into the Order, for distinguished civil and military achievements, though of a lesser level than that required for the conferment of the Legion of Honour. The President of the French Republic is the Grand Master of the Order and appoints all other members of the Order, by convention, on the advice of the Government. The Order has a common Chancellor and Chancery with the Legion of Honour. Every Prime Minister of France is made a grand cross of the order after six months of service.



The Order has five classes, the same as the Légion d’honneur:

  • Grand'croix (grand cross) - wears the badge on a sash on the right shoulder, plus the star on the left chest;
  • Grand officier (grand officer) - wears the badge on a ribbon with rosette on the left chest, plus the star on the right chest;
  • Commandeur (commander) - wears the badge on a necklet;
  • Officier (officer) - wears the badge on a ribbon with rosette on the left chest;
  • Chevalier (knight) - wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest.


The medal and the plaque of the Order were designed by the French sculptor Max Leognany.

  • The medal of the Order is a six-armed Maltese asterisk in gilt (silver for chevalier) enamelled blue, with laurel leaves between the arms. The obverse central disc features the head of Marianne, surrounded by the legend République Française. The reverse central disc has a set of crossed tricolore, surrounded by the name of the Order and its foundation date. The badge is suspended by a laurel wreath.
  • The star (plaque) is worn by Grand Cross (in gilt on the left breast) and Grand Officer (in silver on the right breast) respectively; it is a twelve-armed sunburst, with rays (formerly plain, now in blue enamel) between the arms. The central disc features the head of Marianne, surrounded by the legend République Française and the name of the Order, and in turn surrounded by a wreath of laurel.
  • The ribbon for the medal is a solid blue field. For the officer and above, a rosette is centered in the field. For the commander, grand officer, and grand cross, the rosette is centered bar of silver; silver and gold, and a solid gold respectively.

Deprecated orders

With the 1963 creation of the order of Merit, sixteen orders were discontinued. Extant members of those orders may continue to display their decorations.

Colonial orders
  • Ordre de l'Étoile d'Anjouan (1874) (Order of the Star of Anjouan)
  • Ordre du Nichan el Anouar (1887) (Order of Nishaan-e-Anuar or Order of Light)
  • Ordre de l'Étoile Noire (1889) (Order of the Black Star)
Special orders of merit
  • Ordre du Mérite social (fr) (Order of Social Merit) (1936)
  • Ordre de la Santé publique (Order of Public Health) (1938)
  • Ordre du Mérite commercial et industriel (fr) (Order of Commercial and Industrial Merit) (1939)
  • Ordre du Mérite artisanal (fr) (Order of Artisanal Merit) (1948)
  • Ordre du Mérite touristique (fr) (Order of Tourism Merit) (1949)
  • Ordre du Mérite combattant (fr) (Combatant's Order of Merit) (1953)
  • Ordre du Mérite postal (fr) (Postal Order of Merit) (1953)
  • Ordre de l'Économie nationale (fr) (Order of the National Economy) (1954)
  • Ordre du Mérite sportif (fr) (Order of Sports Merit) (1956)
  • Ordre du Mérite du Travail (fr) (Order of Work Merit) (1957)
  • Ordre du Mérite militaire (fr) (Order of Military Merit) (1957)
  • Ordre du Mérite civil (Order of Civil Merit) (1957)
  • Ordre du Mérite saharien (Saharan Order of Merit) (1958)

See also


This article incorporates information from the revision as of February 2009 of the equivalent article on the French Wikipedia.

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