France has a rich history with iconic landmarks and familiar national symbols. Located in the heart of Europe, France has varied landscapes with flowing rivers, the French Alps and the Pyreness mountains as well as coasts on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. These all provide habitats for hundreds of species of birds with some of high respect to the French people. The story behind the national bird of France has some interesting twists. Read on to find out all about the national bird of France.
What is the National Bird of France?
The national bird of France is the Gallic rooster. The story behind the rooster as the national bird of France comes down to semantics. A linguistic error actually led to the initial affection with the rooster. The historical region of France in Roman times was Gaul. The Latin word for Gaul and the rooster is the same! The term gallus applies to both. The symbol of the rooster was embraced by the French people. The Catholics regarded the rooster as a symbol of faith and hope. Ancient coins featured the rooster on the coins and it gradually became a popular symbol. The French football (soccer) team has the rooster proudly displayed on their jerseys.
What is a Gallic Rooster?
A Gallic rooster is a male chicken with a red waddle and crown, rust to orange back and raised tail feathers in blue. They stand as though they demand respect and are some of the larger rooster species. In France they are the “le coq gaulois” and they symbolize their loyalty to France. You can see carvings of the Gallic rooster on the gate to the gardens of the Élysée Palace in Paris where the President lives.
Do Chickens Live in Flocks?
Yes. Chickens live in flocks and have a social hierarchy system with one dominant chicken, a rooster. You have probably heard the term “pecking order”. Chickens have a pecking order with higher ranking chickens literally pecking at lower ranked chickens to gain access to more food. Most social groups include the lead rooster, a few lower ranked roosters and a couple of hens (female chickens). Roosters are known to be tough fighters even when raised for production they will fight for dominance over other roosters, using their beaks and strong claws. This fighting spirit is one reason they represent the people of France.
Is the Gallic Rooster Featured on the French Flag?
No. The French flag has three equal vertical bands of blue, white and red. The tricolor flag is a feature of many public buildings and is respected by the nation of France. While the rooster is not a feature on the flag, many country flags just represent the country’s colors and not the national animal or bird. Some countries will have their Coat of Arms featured on their flag and many Coat of Arms will include images of national animals.
Where do you See the Rooster Symbol in France?
As early as 1848 the rooster symbol is in use in France. It appears on the Seal of the Republic and in 1899 it is a feature on the gold 20 franc coins. Over the years it has been an emblem on postage stamps as well. The national football (soccer) team has the rooster as its emblem and proudly displayed the rooster on their jerseys in the most recent World Cup. You can find the rooster used by stores like the famous Le Coq Sportif and roosters became commonly displayed in country motifs and housewares.
What is the National Animal of France?
There is not an official national animal of France, but the Gallic rooster continues to be an emblem of the French people. The rooster represents bravery and courage. You will see the rooster represented in art, literature and in the sports community.
Did Napoleon Replace the Rooster with an Eagle?
Yes. During Napoleon’s rule he replaced the symbol of the rooster with an eagle. The French Imperial Eagle instills pride and loyalty in the French people and Napoleon used the symbol of the eagle as an inspiration during battles. Eagle figures are a feature at the top of their staffs as they marched into battle. A statue of a French Imperial Eagle is on display at the Louvre in Paris.
Did a Super Fan bring a Live Rooster to a Football Match?
Yes! Clement Tomaszewski brought his live rooster, Balthazar, to the 1998 World Cup semi-final. Clement has been to more than 274 Bleus games and is a smiling, excitable fan. As of 2020 he had been to eight World Cup tournaments, cheering on his favorite team at each. Balthazar the rooster was actually banned from the 2016 Euro matches due to security concerns. Clement is such a beloved fan that he is a feature in one of the displays at the FIFA Museum!
Did Cockfighting Start in France?
The origins of cockfighting date back to the ancient times where it began in Eastern countries like China, India and Persia. It spread to Greece in c. 524–460 BC. From Rome, it spread further north and became very popular in England, especially for royalty. Cocks are actually bred for the purpose of fighting and began training at a young age. Due to the nature of cockfighting, where in ancient times the birds would fight to the death, there has always been those against the sport. Over the years more and more opposition has shown it as animal cruelty and cockfighting is banned in most countries.
What other Animals Live in France?
The diverse ecosystems boast a wide variety of animals in France. Did you know the Loire River is the home to more than 165 different species of birds? The Dordogne Rover River has salmon, otters and sturgeons. In the Alps you will find furry marmots, French antelope called the chamois, wild sheep called mouflon and wolves.
Animals you will find off the coast of France include bottle nose dolphins, wide mouthed basking sharks, grey seals, cute Atlantic puffins, the rare razorbill and the Northern gannet. You will still find chickens and roosters in many of the villages in France. You can now see why the rooster has grown to be a treasured symbol as the national bird of France.
- The Flag of France: History, Meaning and Symbolism
- Discover the 12 Largest Rivers in France
- 10 Incredible Chicken Facts
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the national bird of France?
The national bird of France is the Gallic rooster.
Did someone bring a rooster to a football match?
Yes! Clement Tomaszewski brought his live rooster, Balthazar, to the 1998 World Cup semi-final. Clement has been to more than 274 Bleus games and is a smiling, excitable fan. As of 2020 he had been to eight World Cup tournaments, cheering on his favorite team at each.
What is a Gallic rooster?
A Gallic rooster is a male chicken with a red waddle and crown, rust to orange back and raised tail feathers in blue. They stand as though they demand respect and are some of the larger rooster species.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- Diplomatie, Available here: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/france-facts/symbols-of-the-republic/article/the-gallic-rooster
- Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/animal/chicken#ref1215094
- France in the US, Available here: https://franceintheus.org/spip.php?article604
- FIFA, Available here: https://www.fifa.com/tournaments/mens/worldcup/qatar2022/news/world-cup-memories-of-a-french-superfan
- Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/sports/cockfighting