National Order of Merit (France)

National Order of Merit
Insignia of a Knight of the National Order of Merit
Awarded by  France
Type Order of merit
Classes Five degrees
Awarded for Distinguished civil and military achievements
Status Active
Grand Master President of the French Republic
Established 3 December 1963
Next (higher) Military Medal
Next (lower) Croix de guerre
Ribbon of a Knight of the order
Knight of the Order
Star and riband of a Grand-Croix

The National Order of Merit (French: Ordre national du Mérite) 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.


Defunct ministerial orders

The National Order of Merit replaced the following ministerial and colonial orders:[1]

Colonial orders

Special ministerial orders of merit



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]


Reverse of the Knight's insignia of the Order

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

Undress ribbons
Grand Officier

Notable recipients

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

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

French citizens

Foreign nationals

Commandant Jacques Cousteau, a Grand-Croix of the Ordre national du Mérite. 
Actor, director and writer Jacques Weber, a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Mérite. 
US Navy Admiral Frank Bowman, an Officier of the Ordre national du Mérite 

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Battini, Jean; Zaniewicki, Witold (2003). Guide pratique des décorations françaises actuelles. Paris: LAVAUZELLE. pp. 37–48. ISBN 2-7025-1030-2. External link in |publisher= (help)


External links

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