If you are in Normandy you cannot help but see many flags flying with three in particular that are most prominant - the French Tricolour, the European 12 star circle and the flag of Normandy consisting of 2 lions ... which bears a significant resemblance to the 3 lions of the coat of arms of England.
|Normandy Flag (Image from Wikimedia Commons)|
In heraldry terms the lions are in fact referred to as leopards and are in a position known as passant guardant. It is said they date back to the time of William the Conqueror and represent the regions of Normandy and Maine that he lorded over and when he conquered England in 1066 he added the third which remained the coat of arms of the UK. However, two facts prove this story to actually be false. One, there is no evidence of the 2 lions on flags on the Bayeux Tapestry and the second, heraldry did not exist in William's time. This story is actually most likely to made up and the first time they are known to have appeared in Normandy is on the shield of Henry Plantagenet or Richard I in the mid or late 1100's and depending on which source you read. I have, however not been able to find out why 2 lions were chosen.
What-ever its history, Normandy is very proud of its 2 lion flag and you will see it flying in many places including Falaise Castle, William' birthplace. The coat of arms of various towns also include one or more lions, including a single lion for Bayeux.
|The single lion on the coat of arms of Bayeux|
The two lions also appears on food products such as Camembert, one of Normandy's local cheeses.
|Camembert cheese with 2 lions on the box|
Once you start looking you will see the lions everywhere. Have you seen the 2 lions of Normandy on any other food products or elsewhere? Or do you know why they were chosen in the first place?