Le Figaro

Le Figaro (French pronunciation: [lə fiɡaʁo]) is a French daily morning newspaper founded in 1826 and published in Paris.[4] Le Figaro is the oldest national daily in France and is one of the three French newspapers of record, along with Le Monde and Libération.[4]

Le Figaro
Front page of 22 November 2015
TypeDaily newspaper
Owner(s)Dassault Group
EditorAlexis Brézet
FoundedJanuary 15, 1826 (1826-01-15)
Political alignment
Circulation313 541 (Print, 2018)
84,000 (Digital, 2018)[3]

With its conservative, right editorial line,[5] Le Figaro is the third largest national newspaper in France after Le Parisien and Le Monde, although some regional papers such as Ouest-France also have larger circulations. In 2019, the paper had an average circulation of 321 116 copies per issue.[6] The paper is published in the berliner format.

The newspaper has been owned by arms-producer Dassault Group since 2004[7] whose publications include TV Magazine and Evene.


Le Figaro was founded as a satirical weekly in 1826,[8][9] taking its name and motto from Le Mariage de Figaro, the 1778 play by Pierre Beaumarchais that poked fun at privilege. Its motto, from Figaro's monologue in the play's final act, is "Sans la liberté de blâmer, il n'est point d'éloge flatteur" ("Without the freedom to criticise, there is no true praise"). In 1833, editor Nestor Roqueplan fought a duel with a Colonel Gallois, who was offended by an article in Le Figaro, and was wounded but recovered.[10] Albert Wolff, Émile Zola, Alphonse Karr, Théophile Gautier, and Jules Claretie were among the paper's early contributors. It was published somewhat irregularly until 1854, when it was taken over by Hippolyte de Villemessant.

In 1866, Le Figaro became a daily newspaper.[11] Its first daily edition, that of 16 November 1866, sold 56,000 copies, having highest circulation of any newspaper in France. Its editorial line was royalist.[12] Pauline Savari was among the contributors to the paper at this time.

On 16 March 1914, Gaston Calmette, the editor of Le Figaro, was assassinated by Henriette Caillaux, the wife of Finance Minister Joseph Caillaux, after he published a letter that cast serious doubt on her husband's integrity.[13] In 1922, Le Figaro was purchased by perfume millionaire François Coty.[14] Abel Faivre did cartoons for the paper.[15] Coty enraged many when he renamed the paper simply Figaro, which it remained until 1933.[16]

By the start of World War II, Le Figaro had become France's leading newspaper. After the war, it became the voice of the upper middle class, and continues to maintain a conservative position.

In 1975, Le Figaro was bought by Robert Hersant's Socpresse. In 1999, the Carlyle Group obtained a 40% stake in the paper, which it later sold in March 2002. Since March 2004, Le Figaro has been controlled by Serge Dassault,[8] a conservative businessman and politician best known for running the aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, which he inherited from his father, its founder, Marcel Dassault (1892–1986). Dassault owns 80% of the paper.[8]

In 2006, Le Figaro was banned in Egypt and Tunisia for publishing articles allegedly insulting Islam.[17][18]

Le Figaro switched to Berliner format in 2009.[19] The paper has published The New York Times International Weekly on Friday since 2009, an 8-page supplement featuring a selection of articles from The New York Times translated into French. In 2010, Lefigaro.fr created a section called Le Figaro in English,[20] which provides the global English-speaking community with daily original or translated content from Le Figaro’s website. The section ended in 2012.[21]

Editorial stance and controversies

Le Figaro has traditionally held a conservative editorial stance, becoming the voice of the French upper and middle classes.[7]

The newspaper's ownership by Serge Dassault has been a source of controversy in terms of conflict-of-interest, as Dassault also owns a major military supplier and has served in political positions from the Union for a Popular Movement party. His son Olivier Dassault is a member of the French National Assembly.[22] Dassault has remarked in an interview in 2004 on the public radio station France Inter that "newspapers must promulgate healthy ideas" and that "left-wing ideas are not healthy ideas."[23]

In February 2012, a general assembly of the newspaper's journalists adopted a motion accusing the paper's managing editor, Étienne Mougeotte, of having made Le Figaro into the "bulletin" of the governing party, the Union for a Popular Movement, of the government and of President Nicolas Sarkozy. They requested more pluralism and "honesty" and accused the paper of one-sided political reporting. Mougeotte had previously said that Le Figaro would do nothing to embarrass the government and the right.[24][25][26] Mougeotte publicly replied: "Our editorial line pleases our readers as it is, it works. I don't see why I should change it. [...] We are a right-wing newspaper and we express it clearly, by the way. Our readers know it, our journalists too. There's nothing new to that!"[1]

Circulation history

In the period of 1995–96, the paper had a circulation of 391,533 copies, behind Le Parisien's 451,159 copies.[27]

Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012


In 2017 online version of Le Figaro was among the ten most cited sources in the French Wikipedia.[28] Currently it is included in the top 50 most visited websites in France.[29]

See also


  1. ""Le Figaro" : Mougeotte répond aux critiques de ses journalistes", Le Nouvel Observateur, 10 February 2012
  2. Raymond Kuh,The Media in France. Routledge, London and New York, 1995. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  3. Le Figaro internationalmediasales.net
  4. "Le Figaro - French newspaper".
  5. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4295349.stm BBC - Press in France
  6. https://www.acpm.fr/Support/le-figaro ACPM - Le Figaro
  7. "The press in France". 11 November 2006 via news.bbc.co.uk.
  8. "The press in France". BBC. 11 November 2006. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  9. "Media Landscape Media Claims" (PDF). European Social Survey. May 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 August 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  10. Millingen, J.G. (2004). The History of Dueling Including Narratives of the Most Remarkable Encounters.
  11. "Historical development of the media in France" (PDF). McGraw-Hill Education. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  12. Alan Grubb, The Politics of Pessimism: Albert de Broglie and Conservative Politics in the Early Third Republic
  13. Sarah Sissmann and Christophe Barbier, "Une épouse outragée" Archived 3 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine, L'Express, 30 August 2004. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  14. Janet Flanner (3 May 1930),"Perfume and Politics", The New Yorker. Republished 7 May 2005. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  15. "Deposit Your Gold for France. Gold Fights for Victory". World Digital Library. 1915. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  16. Roulhac Toledano, Elizabeth Z. Coty, “Napoleon of the Press” ,"François Coty: Fragrance, Power, Money". Retrieved 28 May 2018
  17. "The impact of blasphemy laws on human Rights" (Policy Brief). Freedom House. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  18. "Tunisia, Egypt ban newspaper editions on controversy over pope's comments". CPJ. New York. 27 September 2006. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  19. "Le Figaro". Euro Topics. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  20. "Mon Figaro - Cercle - Le Figaro in English - articles". Le Figaro. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  21. "Mon Figaro - This Week's Top Stories from France". Le Figaro. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  22. "Dassault se sépare d'Yves de Chaisemartin", Le Figaro, 1 October 2004. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  23. "M. Dassault veut une presse aux « idées saines »", Le Monde, 12 December 2004. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  24. ""Le Figaro" n'est pas "le bulletin d'un parti"", Le Monde, 9 February 2012
  25. "La question du jour. "Le Figaro" est-il un journal d'opinion ou un "bulletin" de l'UMP?", Le Nouvel Observateur, 10 February 2012
  26. "Présidentielle : les journalistes du Figaro réclament un journal plus « honnête »", Rue89, 9 February 2012
  27. Media Policy: Convergence, Concentration & Commerce. SAGE Publications. 24 September 1998. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-4462-6524-6. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  28. Lewoniewski, Włodzimierz; Węcel, Krzysztof; Abramowicz, Witold (23 September 2017). "Analysis of References Across Wikipedia Languages". Communications in Computer and Information Science. 756: 561–573. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-67642-5_47. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  29. Top sites in France - Alexa Rank

Further reading

  • Merrill, John C. and Harold A. Fisher. The World's Great Dailies: Profiles of Fifty Newspapers (1980) pp 124–29
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