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The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) is an Order of Francemarker, established on 2 May 1957 by the Minister of Culture, and confirmed as part of the Ordre National du Mérite by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Its purpose is the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.


French government guidelines provide that citizens of France must be at least thirty years old, respect French civil law, and must have, "significantly contributed to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance."

Members are not, however, limited to French nationals. Recipients have included numerous foreign luminaries.

Foreign recipients are admitted into the Order, "without condition of age."

The Order has three grades:
  • Commandeur (commander) — medallion worn on necklet; up to twenty recipients a year.
  • Officier (officer) — medallion worn on ribbon with rosette on left breast; up to sixty recipients a year.
  • Chevalier (knight) — medallion worn on ribbon on left breast; up to 200 recipients a year.

The médaille of the Order is an eight-point, green-enameled asterisk, in gilt for commanders and officers, in silver for knights; the obverse central disc has the letters "A" and "L" on a white enamelled background, surrounded by a golden ring emblazoned with the phrase "République Française." The reverse central disc features the head of Marianne on a golden background, surrounded by a golden ring bearing the words "Ordre des Arts et des Lettres." The commander's badge is topped by a gilt twisted ring.

The ribbon of the Order is green with four white stripes.

Members of the order

According to the statutes of the Order, French citizens must wait a minimum of 5 years before they are eligible to be upgraded from Chevalier to Officer, or Officer to Commandeur and must have displayed additional meritorious deeds than just those which originally made them a Chevalier. However in the statutes there is a clause saying "Les Officiers et les Commandeurs de la Légion d'honneur peuvent être directement promus à un grade équivalent dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" Translation : The officer and commanders of the Legion of Honour are able to be promoted directly to an equivalent grade in the Order of Arts and Letters. This means that were someone to be made a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters one year, then made an officer of the Legion of Honour the next year that person would be upgraded to Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters having bypassed the five year rule.

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