French Legal Research Guide

This in-depth guide will help researchers navigate French legal materials.


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World Constitutions Illustrated: France (HeinOnline) provides electronic access to the current and historic constitutions (and related materials) of France, including many in English translation. Various constitutions are also available via the links below:

Revolutionary Era
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) (also available in French)
Constitution of 1791 (also available in French)
Constitution of 1793 (also available in French)
Constitution of the Year III (1795) (also available in French)
Constitution of the Year VIII (1799) (also available in French)
Constitution of the Year X (1802) (available in French)
Constitution of the Year XII (1804) (also available in French)

Restoration of the Monarchy
Constitutional Charter of 1814 (also available in French)
Charter of 1815 (also available in French)
Constitutional Charter of 1830 (also available in French)

19th Century
Constitution of 1848—established the French Second Republic (available in French)
Constitution of 1852—established the French Second Empire (available in French)
Constitutional Laws of 1875—established the French Third Republic (available in French)

20th Century
Constitutional Law of 1940—Vichy France
Constitutional Law of 1945—Provisional Government of the French Republic (available in French)
Constitution of 1946—established the French Fourth Republic (available in French)

The current Constitution of France was adopted in 1958, although several subsequent amendments have been made. This Constitution is frequently referred to as the Constitution of the Fifth Republic to distinguish it from the many prior constitutions that were in effect for various historical periods. Availability for the Constitution is as follows:

  • Online from the National Assembly in English, but be aware that only the French original is considered the authentic text. Prepared under the joint responsibility of the Press Information and Communication Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Affairs Department of the National Assembly.
  • The French Constitution: Its Origin and Development in the Fifth Republic, Bernard Chantebout (David Grunning trans.), KJV4074.51958 .C4813 1998
  • La Constitution de la Republique Francaise: Analyses et Commentaires, François Luchaire, Gérard Conac, Xavier Prétot, Clémence Zacharie, KJV4074.51958.A18 C66 2009