The Normandy 2 Leopards

Travel round Normandy and you'll see plenty of flags. You will probably recognise the French Tricolour and the European Union 12 star circle but do you know this one - the flag of Normandy?  It consists of what I always thought was 2 lions ... but it turns out I am I was wrong about the lions bit. They are in fact LEOPARDS.

Normandy flag
Image credit -

I am no expert in heraldry but apparently these "lions" are in fact leopards in the passant guardant form.  Did you know that? They are supposed to date back to the time of William the Conqueror, representing the two regions of Normandy and Maine that he was lord of at the time of the Normandy invasion of England. It is said that when he conquered England in 1066 he added the third and this then became the coat of arms of the UK. This is however not true as there is no evidence of the 2 leopards on flags on the Bayeux Tapestry and the perhaps even more tellingly, heraldry did not exist in the late 11th century! The earliest they are seen in Normandy is on the shield of Henry Plantagenet or Richard I in the mid or late 1100's.

For reasons I have not been able to find, the 2 leopards came to represent Normandy.  The region is very proud of them so you will see them on flags in many towns and villages. The coat of arms of various towns also include one or more leopards, including a single leopard for Bayeux.

The two leopards also appear on Normandy foods such as Camembert, one of Normandy's 4 AOC cheeses.

Bayeux Lion

2 lions of Normandy on a box of Camembert

And these young athletes from the Flers-Condé Athletics Club proudly display the 2 leopards Normandy  flag at the Championnat de France de cross (France cross country companionships):

Flers Condé Athletisme
Photo credit - Flers-Condé Athletisme

Have you seen the Normandy leopards anywhere in the region?  Do let us know in a comment.

Or do you know why they were chosen in the first place?

Why not pin me!

The 2 lions of the Normandy flag