With its center-right
editorial line, Le Figaro
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.
The paper is published in the berliner
6th issue, 20 January 1826
Share of the Société du Figaro, issued 13 June 1923
Front page of Le Figaro, 4 August 1914
was founded as a satirical weekly in 1826,
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 true 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. 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.
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. Pauline Savari
was among the contributors to the paper at this time.
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.
switched to Berliner format in 2009.
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,
which provides the global English-speaking community with daily original or translated content from Le Figaro
’s website. The section ended in 2012.
Logo during the 1820s
Logo since the 1920s
Editorial stance and controversies
has traditionally held a conservative
editorial stance, becoming the voice of the French upper and middle classes.
More recently, the newspaper's political stance has become more centrist.
The newspaper's ownership by Serge Dassault
has been a source of controversy in terms of conflict-of-interest, as Dassault also owns a major military supplier and has 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
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."
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.
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!"
In the period of 1995–96, the paper had a circulation of 391,533 copies, behind Le Parisien'
s 451,159 copies.
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Merrill, John C. and Harold A. Fisher. The World's Great Dailies: Profiles of Fifty Newspapers (1980) pp 124–29
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