From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Logistics troops of the French Army on patrol in front of the Louvre.

Vigipirate (French: Plan Vigipirate) is France's national security alert system. Created in 1978 by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, it has since been updated three times: in 1995 (following a terror bombing campaign), 2000 and 2004.[1]

The system defines four levels of threats represented by five colors: white, yellow, orange, red, scarlet. The levels call for specific security measures, including increased police or police/military mixed patrols in subways, train stations and other vulnerable locations.

"Vigipirate" is a portmanteau of "vigilance" (vigilance) or "vigie" (watchtower) and "pirate" (pirate).

Levels of alert[edit]

Alert level Color Significance Measures taken
White No danger No danger
Yellow Vague threat / raise vigilance Raise security levels to face real yet still uncertain dangers, through measures that are local and minimally disruptive of normal activity, while preparing to switch to "orange" or "red" within a few days.
Orange Possible threat / prevent terrorist action Take measures against plausible risks of terrorist action, including the use of means that are moderately disruptive to normal public activities, while preparing to switch to "red" or "scarlet" on short notice where possible.
Red High chance of threat / prevent serious attack Take measures against a proven risk of one or more terrorist actions, including measures to protect public institutions and putting in place appropriate means for rescue and response, authorizing a significant level of disruption to social and economic activity.
Scarlet Definite threat / prevent major attack Notification of a risk of major attacks, simultaneous or otherwise, using non-conventional means and causing major devastation; preparing appropriate means of rescue and response, measures that are highly disruptive to public life are authorized.

History of alert levels[edit]

French Marine on Vigipirate duty at Gare de Lyon
2 January 1991 Phase 1 First release phase 1 in the beginning of the Gulf War
17 January 1991 Phase 2 Passage of phase 2 in the early war strikes
26 April 1991 Lifting of level
8 September 1995 Release After the 1995 Paris Metro bombing
15 January 1996 Relief
October 1996 Suspension
3 December 1996 Reactivation After an attack on the RER station Port Royal in Paris
1998 Reinforcement Due to the 1998 World Cup
24 April 1999 Reinforcement Due to the Kosovo War
24 April 1999 Reactivation In the wake of the attacks in Corsica
27 December 1999 Reactivation In the wake of the Y2K problem
11 September 2001 Reinforcement After the September 11 attacks in the United States
5 June 2002 Prorogation Prorogued by the new Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.
9 September 2002 Prorogation Extension of Vigipirate strengthened after the attacks of September 11, 2001
6 December 2002 Reinforcement Celebrations at the end of the year
20 March 2003 Reinforcement At the beginning of the Iraq War
20 March 2003 Orange level Reforming of Vigipirate and the introduction of color levels due to the Iraq war
17 May 2003 Orange level After the 2003 Casablanca bombings
2 October 2003 Yellow level Prime Ministerial decision
1 December 2003 Orange level Due to the celebrations
26 January 2004 Yellow level
12 March 2004 Red level Only in land transport, orange everywhere else. After the 2004 Madrid train bombings
24 May 2004 Red level During the week-long anniversary of the invasion of Normandy
8 June 2004 Orange level
8 July 2004 Orange level
7 July 2005 Red level After the 2005 London bombings
10 October 2005 Red level New measures adopted
8 November 2005 State of emergency State of emergency implemented due to the 2005 civil unrest in France
4 January 2006 Red level End of the state of emergency
July 2006 Red level New measures adopted
16 December 2008 Red level After explosives are found at a Paris department store
August 2010 Red level Measures of protection are reinforced
September 2010 Red level Strengthening of security throughout the country
November 2010 Red level After five terror suspects are arrested
May 2011 Red level After the death of Osama Bin Laden
19 March 2012 Scarlet level After the 2012 Midi-Pyrénées shootings. First time scarlet level is implemented.
24 March 2012 Red level Level lowered back to red after the 2012 Midi-Pyrénées shootings suspect has been apprehended.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mathieu Rigouste , « L’ennemi intérieur, de la guerre coloniale au contrôle sécuritaire », Cultures & Conflits, 67, automne 2007, [En ligne], mis en ligne le 04 janvier 2010. URL :