Ordre national du Mérite

The Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit) is a French order of merit with membership awarded by the President of the French Republic, founded on 3 December 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle. The reason for 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, which is generally reserved for French citizens.[1] It comprises about 187,000 members worldwide.

Ordre national du Mérite
Medal of a Knight of the Order
Awarded by the President of France
TypeOrder of merit
Established3 December 1963
Awarded forDistinguished civil or military achievements
StatusCurrently constituted
Grand MasterPresident Emmanuel Macron
GradesGrand Cross
Grand Officer
First induction1963
Next (higher)Military Medal
Next (lower)National Recognition Medal for Victims of Terrorism
RelatedOrder of Agricultural Merit
Order of Maritime Merit

Ribbon of the Order


Defunct ministerial orders

The Ordre national du Mérite replaced the following ministerial and colonial orders:[1]

Colonial orders

Special ministerial orders of merit

  • Ordre du Mérite social (Order of Societal Merit) (1936)
  • Ordre de la Santé publique (Order of Public Health) (1938)
  • Ordre du Mérite commercial et industriel (Order of Commercial and Industrial Merit) (1939)
  • Ordre du Mérite artisanal (Order of Artisanal Merit) (1948)
  • Ordre du Mérite touristique (Order of Tourism Merit) (1949)
  • Ordre du Mérite combattant (Order of Combatant Merit) (1953)
  • Ordre du Mérite postal (Order of Postal Merit) (1953)
  • Ordre de l'Économie nationale (Order of the National Economy) (1954)
  • Ordre du Mérite sportif (Order of Sports Merit) (1956)
  • Ordre du Mérite du travail (Order of Work Merit) (1957)
  • Ordre du Mérite militaire (Order of Military Merit) (1957)
  • Ordre du Mérite civil (Order of Civil Merit) (1957)
  • Ordre du Mérite Saharien (Order of Saharan Merit) (1958)



French citizens as well as foreign nationals, men and women, can be received into the order for distinguished military or civil achievements, though of a lesser level than that required for the award of the Legion of Honour. The President of the French Republic is the Grand Master of the order and appoints all its members by convention on the advice of the Government of France. 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 24 months of service.[1]


The Order has five classes, the same as the Légion d’honneur:[1]

  • Three ranks:
    • Knight (Chevalier): to be of a minimum age of 35, have a minimum of 10 years of public service (although, in practice, 15 years is the minimum commonly needed to be conferred the rank of Knight), and "distinguished merits" (for active duty commissioned officers, this is achieved after fifteen years of meritorious service)
    • Officer (Officier): minimum of 5 years in the rank of Knight (for active duty commissioned officers, this is achieved after seven years in the rank of Knight)
    • Commander (Commandeur): minimum of 5 years in the rank of Officer (for active duty commissioned officers, this is achieved after five years in the rank of Officer)
  • Two dignities:
    • Grand Officer (Grand Officier): minimum 3 years in the rank of Commander
    • Grand Cross (Grand-Croix): minimum 3 years in the rank of Grand Officer


  • Knight – wears the Medal on the left chest (bow form for women in dress)
  • Officer – wears the Medal with rosette on the left chest (bow form for women in dress)
  • Commander – wears the necklet on the neck for men and women (left shoulder in bow form for women in dress)
  • Grand Officer – wears the Medal with rosette on the left chest, plus the Star on the right side of the stomach;
  • Grand Cross – wears the Sash on the right shoulder to the left hip and the Star on the left side of the stomach.

The medal and the plaque of the Order were designed by the French sculptor Max Leognany.[1]

  • 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 (French Republic). The reverse central disc has a set of crossed tricolores, 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-Croix (in gilt on the left breast) and Grand Officier (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 grade of Officier and above, a rosette is centered in the field. For the grades of Commandeur, Grand Officier, and Grand-Croix, the rosette is centered bar of silver; silver and gold, and a solid gold respectively.
Undress ribbons
Knight Officer Commander Grand Officer Grand-Cross

Notable recipients

The individuals listed below have been admitted as members of the National Order of Merit:

See also



  1. Battini, Jean; Zaniewicki, Witold (2003). Guide pratique des décorations françaises actuelles. Paris: LAVAUZELLE. pp. 37–48. ISBN 2-7025-1030-2.
  2. BUSINESS, BFM. "Ce que la Légion d'honneur signifie pour les licornes".


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