Republican Guard (France)

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For the French Revolution militia, see National Guard (France).
Garde républicaine
Blason paris 75.svg
Active 1848-present
Country Flag of France.svg France
Branch National Gendarmerie
Type Infantry,
Role Honour Guard,
Size 2,800
Garrison/HQ Paris
Decorations Legion Honneur Chevalier ribbon.svg Légion d'honneur
Ordre de la Liberation 2nd ribbon.svg Croix de la Libération
Croix de Guerre des Theatres d'Operations Exterieurs ribbon.svg Croix de Guerre TOE

The Republican Guard (French: Garde républicaine) is part of the French Gendarmerie. It is responsible for providing guards of honor for the State and security in the Paris area.

Its missions include:

The close physical protection of the President of France is entrusted to the GSPR (Groupe de sécurité de la présidence de la République) a mixed police - gendarmerie unit which is not part of the Guard. The Guard however provides counter-sniper teams (Observateurs-contre-tireurs) and SWAT teams (called pelotons d'intervention or intervention platoons - see below).

The Republican Guard also represents France at international events at home or abroad.

The Republican Guard is twinned with the Red Guard of Senegal.[1]

Republican guard in front of the Elysée palace


Cavalry officer

The Republican Guard is the heir of the various bodies that preceded it in the course of French history and whose task was to honor and protect the high authorities of the State and City of Paris : Gardes Françaises of the Kings, Consular and Imperial guard of Napoleon, etc.. Its name derives from the Municipal Guard of Paris, established on 12 Vendémiaire XI (October 4, 1802) by Napoleon Bonaparte. It distinguished itself in battles of historical significance, including Danzig and Friedland in 1807, Alcolea in 1808 and Burgos in 1812.

In 1813 it was dissolved following the attempted coup of General Malet and replaced by the Imperial Gendarmerie of Paris and then, under the Restoration, the Royal Guard of Paris and the Royal Mounted Police of Paris. In 1830, it was recreated, and again removed after the Revolution of 1848 in favor of the Civic Guard (which proved to be a transient institution).

June 1848 saw the creation of the Republican Guard of Paris, including an infantry regiment and a regiment of cavalry. It received its insignia July 14, 1880. It took part in the First World War and saw its flag and banner decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Legion of Honour. During the Second World War, it reported to the police headquarters and took the name of Guard of Paris. Part of its staff rallied to General de Gaulle and the Guard was involved in the fightings alongside the FFI during the liberation of Paris.

In 1952, the guard was renamed the Legion of the Republican Guard of Paris and took part in the Indochina War, which earned it the Croix de Guerre.

In 1978, the guard took its current name of "Republican Guard." President Giscard d'Estaing gave it, on 11 November 1979, its new insignia. Michele Alliot-Marie, Minister of Defence, said in October 2002: "The Republican Guard has a popularity that transcends borders," it contributes "to the splendour of the French military and France."[2]


Ceremonial duties[edit]

Brazilian president Lula reviewing the Republican Guard.

These ceremonial functions are performed mainly by the first infantry regiment, the cavalry regiment and occasionally by the second infantry regiment.

Detachments from the cavalry regiment reinforce the two infantry regiments in carrying out ceremonial and security duties in and around state buildings. These include the lining of both sides of the entry stairs of the Elysée or Matignon Palaces (and other buildings) by dismounted cavalry on special occasions. These Republican Guards belong to the Cavalry Regiment and not to the infantry units whose mission is to ensure the security of these palaces and of senior government figures. Certain ceremonial duties in the form of honour guards are performed when state visits are made to the Paris museums or the Opera, as well as other ceremonies (for example at the French Academy).[3]

Security missions[edit]

Other missions[edit]

Some guards are assigned to more specific missions:


The Republican Guard belongs to the French National Gendarmerie. It is made up of approx. 2,800 men and women (drawn from an overall body of 100,000 gendarmes). As a historically Parisian organization, the guards wear the armorial bearings of the city on their uniforms.

It consists of two infantry regiments (one includes a motorcycle squadron) and a horse cavalry regiment. It also has four musical formations, as well as display teams demonstrating prowess in horseback or motorcycle maneuvers. The Guard is commanded by a general de division (major general). It is headquartered in the Quartier des Célestins,[4] Paris, built in 1895-1901, designed by the renowned French architect Jacques Hermant.

Cavalry regiment[edit]

Mounted band

Headquartered in the Quartier des Célestins, and Quartier Carnot barracks the cavalry regiment is made up of approx. 480 gendarmes and civilians of which a little more than 10% are women. It has approximately 550 horses (11% mares) and remains the last mounted regiment in the French armed forces.

The regiment is composed of:

  • Three squadrons[5] of cavalry (the first is based at Quartier des Célestins (in Paris) and two others based at Quartier Carnot also in Paris at the fringe of Bois de Vincennes),
  • A squadron hors rang (based at Les Célestins) and composed of:
    • Mounted Band
    • horse-shoeing (farriers),
    • veterinary service.
  • The Training centre (Centre d'Instruction) at Quartier Goupil Saint-Germain-en-Laye),

This unit has a section of high level sportsmen, in particular Hubert Perring, dressage champion of France in 2005, and member of the French team for the World Equestrian Games of 2006.

Special displays of the cavalry regiment[edit]

Exhibition drill squads present four shows and reenactments:

  • le carrousel des lances (the lancer's Carrousel) ;
  • la maison du Roy (the King's house);
  • la reprise des tandems (the tandem riders);
  • la reprise des douze (demonstration/lesson with 12 riders) ;

Infantry regiments[edit]

Republican Guard Infantry in ceremonial uniform

The Republican Guard has two regiments of infantry:

  • The first infantry regiment is composed of :
    • The Republican Guard band
    • Motorcycle Squadron
    • Compagnie de sécurité de la Présidence de la république (Presidential palace security company)
    • Three compagnies de sécurité et d'honneur (security and honor companies)
  • the second regiment of infantry is composed of :
    • Compagnie de sécurité de l'Hôtel Matignon (Prime minister security company)
    • Compagnie de sécurité des Palais Nationaux (National palaces - ie national assembly and senate - security company)
    • Four compagnies de sécurité et d'honneur (CSH)
    • Auxiliary platoon.

Each of the seven security and honor companies is composed of three regular sections (ie platoons) and one peloton d'intervention (intervention platoon). The regular sections perform ceremonial duties and guards. The intervention platoons provide special security in the government buildings and palaces protected by the Guard. They are also tasked with police missions in support of the Gendarmerie in the Paris area (home arrests, escorts etc.). One of the seven intervention platoons is permanently deployed to French Guyana on a rotational basis in support of forces combatting illegal gold mining.

Special displays of the infantry regiments[edit]

  • Bayonet Drill Team (Quadrille des baïllonnettes) (1st régiment)
  • The Battery Fanfare band
  • The Napoleonic Brass Fanfare Band wearing uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars
  • Emperor's Grenadiers Platoon serving as a reenacting unit (2nd régiment)
  • Motorcycle Display Team

Orchestra of the Republican Guard[edit]

Depending on needs, the orchestra performs in two formats:

  • the Harmorny Orchestra (80 musicians)
  • the String orchestra (40 musicians), likely to be presented in configurations of 24 or 12 bows, or in string quartets

It was founded in 1848 by Jean-George Paulus.

Chœur de l'Armée française (Armed Forces Choir)[edit]

This men's choir is composed of 46 professional singers. In spite of its name (Choir of the French army), it is part of the Garde républicaine and thus reports to the Gendarmerie. The choir performs mainly during official ceremonies and commemorations but also during festivals and sport events. Since 2007, it has been led by a woman - Major Aurore Tillac who serves as choir master.


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ fr:Garde républicaine (France)#Histoire
  3. ^ Citizens could even hire Republican Guards for private fashionable evenings but this option was terminated by President Giscard d'Estaing in the mid 1970s.
  4. ^ Quartier is used for barracks housing cavalry and other mounted troops while caserne is used for infantry, engineers and non-mounted troops.
  5. ^ A French escadron is equivalent to a US troop or a British squadron.

External links[edit]