Le Figaro

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Le Figaro
Le Figaro.svg
Front page of 22 November 2015
TypeDaily newspaper
(since 16 November 1866)
Owner(s)Groupe Figaro (Dassault Group)
EditorAlexis Brézet[1]
Founded15 January 1826; 197 years ago (1826-01-15)
Political alignment
Headquarters14 Boulevard Haussmann
75009 Paris
Circulation336,289 (total, 2020)[7]
84,000 (digital, 2018)[8]

Le Figaro (French pronunciation: ​[lə fiɡaʁo]) is a French daily morning newspaper founded in 1826. It is headquartered on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris.[9] The oldest national newspaper in France, Le Figaro is one of three French newspapers of record, along with Le Monde and Libération.[9]

It was named after Figaro, a character in a play by polymath Beaumarchais (1732–1799); one of his lines became the paper's motto: "Sans la liberté de blâmer, il n'est point d'éloge flatteur" ("Without the freedom to criticise, there is no flattering praise"). With a centre-right editorial line, it is the largest national newspaper in France, ahead of Le Parisien and Le Monde. In 2019, the paper had an average circulation of 321,116 copies per issue.[7] The paper is published in Berliner format.

Since 2012 its editor (directeur de la rédaction) has been Alexis Brézet. The newspaper has been owned by Dassault Group since 2004.[10] Other Groupe Figaro publications include Le Figaro Magazine, TV Magazine and Evene.


6th issue, 20 January 1826
Front page of Le Figaro, 4 August 1914

Le Figaro was founded as a satirical weekly in 1826,[11][12] 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 flattering 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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15] Pauline Savari was among the contributors to the paper at this time.

On 20 February 1909 Le Figaro published a manifesto signed by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti which initiated the establishment of Futurism in art.[16]

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.[17] In 1922, Le Figaro was purchased by perfume millionaire François Coty.[18] Abel Faivre did cartoons for the paper.[19] Coty enraged many in March 1929 when he renamed the paper simply Figaro, which it remained until 1933.[20]

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.

Share of the Société du Figaro, issued 13 June 1923

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,[11] 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, by way of its media subsidiary Groupe Figaro.[11]

In 2006, Le Figaro was banned in Egypt and Tunisia for publishing articles allegedly insulting Islam.[21][22]

Le Figaro switched to Berliner format in 2009.[23] 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,[24] which provides the global English-speaking community with daily original or translated content from Le Figaro's website. The section ended in 2012.[25]

In the 2010s, Le Figaro saw future presidential candidate Éric Zemmour's columns garner great interest among readers that would later serve to launch his political career.[26]


Editorial stance and controversies[edit]

Le Figaro has traditionally held a conservative editorial stance, becoming the voice of the French upper and middle classes.[10] More recently, the newspaper's political stance has become more centrist.

The newspaper's ownership by Serge Dassault was a source of controversy in terms of conflict-of-interest, as Dassault also owned a major military supplier and served in political positions from the Union for a Popular Movement party. His son Olivier Dassault served as a member of the French National Assembly.[27] 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."[28]

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.[29][30][31] 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!"[32]

Circulation history[edit]

In the period of 1995–96, the paper had a circulation of 391,533 copies, behind Le Parisien's 451,159 copies.[33]

Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Circulation 366,690 360,909 366,529 369,108 369,706 365,083 337,118 332,818 338,618 330,482 323,991 325,509
Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Circulation 329,367 330,952 324,170 320,732 317,152 311,127 312,994 313,694 329,462 331,927

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Brexit: Europe's media eye more referendums". BBC News. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  2. ^ Martin, Thomas; Binet, Laurent (2018). "Left Versus Right, or Mainstream Versus Margins? Divisions in French Media and Reactions to the 'Brexit' Vote". In Anthony Ridge-Newman; Fernando León-Solís; Hugh O'Donnell (eds.). Reporting the Road to Brexit: International Media and the EU Referendum 2016. Springer. p. 146. ISBN 978-3-319-73681-5.
  3. ^ Anna Galluzzi, ed. (2014). Libraries and Public Perception: A Comparative Analysis of the European Press. Elsevier. p. 29. ISBN 9781780634258.
  4. ^ Eric Kaufmann, ed. (2019). Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities. Abrams. ISBN 9781468316988. Two newer stars on the French right are Renaud Camus, author of Le Grand Remplacement (The Great Replacement) and Éric Zemmour, an observant Jew of Algerian provenance who wrote for the centre-right Le Figaro.
  5. ^ Semi Purhonen; Riie Heikkilä; Irmak Karademir Hazir, eds. (2018). Enter Culture, Exit Arts?: The Transformation of Cultural Hierarchies in European Newspaper Culture Sections, 1960–2010. Routledge. p. 15. ISBN 9781351728041.
  6. ^ a b Raymond Kuh,The Media in France. Routledge, London and New York, 1995. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Le Figaro, Chiffres de Diffusion". ACPM. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  8. ^ Le Figaro internationalmediasales.net
  9. ^ a b "Le Figaro - French newspaper".
  10. ^ a b "The press in France". 11 November 2006 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  11. ^ a b c "The press in France". BBC. 11 November 2006. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Media Landscape Media Claims" (PDF). European Social Survey. May 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 August 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  13. ^ Millingen, J.G. (2004). The History of Dueling Including Narratives of the Most Remarkable Encounters.
  14. ^ "Historical development of the media in France" (PDF). McGraw-Hill Education. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  15. ^ Alan Grubb, The Politics of Pessimism: Albert de Broglie and Conservative Politics in the Early Third Republic
  16. ^ Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi (1992). The aestheticization of politics: A study of power in Mussolini's fascist Italy (PhD thesis). University of California, Berkeley. p. 67. ISBN 979-8-207-42060-8. ProQuest 303984014.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Janet Flanner (3 May 1930),"Perfume and Politics", The New Yorker. Republished 7 May 2005. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  19. ^ "Deposit Your Gold for France. Gold Fights for Victory". World Digital Library. 1915. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  20. ^ Roulhac Toledano, Elizabeth Z. Coty, "Napoleon of the Press","François Coty: Fragrance, Power, Money". Retrieved 28 May 2018
  21. ^ "The impact of blasphemy laws on human Rights" (Policy Brief). Freedom House. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  22. ^ "Tunisia, Egypt ban newspaper editions on controversy over pope's comments". CPJ. New York. 27 September 2006. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  23. ^ "Le Figaro". Euro Topics. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  24. ^ "Mon Figaro - Cercle - Le Figaro in English - articles". Le Figaro. Archived from the original on 5 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  25. ^ "Mon Figaro - This Week's Top Stories from France". Le Figaro. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  26. ^ "Présidentielle 2022 : Zemmour se retire du Figaro pour la promotion de son livre, un pas de plus vers une candidature ?", Le Parisien (in French), 1 September 2021.
  27. ^ "Dassault se sépare d'Yves de Chaisemartin", Le Figaro, 1 October 2004. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  28. ^ "M. Dassault veut une presse aux « idées saines »", Le Monde, 12 December 2004. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  29. ^ ""Le Figaro" n'est pas "le bulletin d'un parti"", Le Monde, 9 February 2012
  30. ^ "La question du jour. "Le Figaro" est-il un journal d'opinion ou un "bulletin" de l'UMP?", Le Nouvel Observateur, 10 February 2012
  31. ^ "Présidentielle : les journalistes du Figaro réclament un journal plus « honnête »", Rue89, 9 February 2012
  32. ^ ""Le Figaro" : Mougeotte répond aux critiques de ses journalistes", Le Nouvel Observateur, 10 February 2012
  33. ^ Media Policy: Convergence, Concentration & Commerce. SAGE Publications. 24 September 1998. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-4462-6524-6. Retrieved 3 February 2014.

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]