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 1950-2009 normal series plates, pre-1993 style

75 = Ville de Paris.

Even though they had the same character size, front plates were usually somewhat smaller than rear plates.
2A = Corse-du-Sud.

In 1976, the department of Corse (code 20) was split into Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse, which received the new codes 2A and 2B respectively, thus deviating from the normally numeric-only department codes.

28 = Eure-et-Loire.
67 = Bas-Rhin.

The rear plate is split into two parts. This was necessary for certain Citroën vehicles built in the 1950s, which had the rear plate illumination in the middle of the plate space.
Motorcycle plate, 69 = Rhône.
Motorcycle plate, 75 = Ville de Paris.

This is a crudely made plate with plastic stickers on a cardboard backing. I don't know whether this was legal, but motorcycle plates were much more often seen in odd styles than car plates.

 1950-2009 normal series plates, reflective style
17 = Charente-Maritime.

After having been optional before, reflective plates became mandatory in 1993. Front plates had to be white, rear plates yellow.
49 = Maine-et-Loire.

This pair obviously was on a Lutus car. The front plate is smaller than legally allowed, probably to complement the aerodynamics of the sports car.
59 = Nord.

After having been optional before, the Euroband became mandatory in 2004. Front plates became the same size as rear plates.
Motorcycle plate, 42 = Loire.

The Euroband has been mandatory since 2004, white rear plates were optionally permitted in 2007.

 2009 onwards normal series plates

78 = Yvelines, Île-de-France Region.

In 2009, a new nationwide numbering system was introduced, consisting of two letters, three numerals and two letters, which are purely serial. On the right edge is a blue band showing a former department code and the corresponding regional logo. However, this is not necessarily indicative of the place were the car is registered; the department can be freely chosen by the car owner.

 Special series plates
Pre-2009 agricultural tractor plate, 28 = Eure-et-Loire.

A farm-specific number was followed by the department code. All tractors belonging to one farm had the same number. Since 2009 tractors receive individual normal series numbers.

Official vehicle plates

Top: Pre-1992 official vehicle front plate. Number above 30000: Authority other than the central administration.

Bottom: 1992-2009 official vehicle rear plate. 33 = Gironde, R = permitted to circulate in the region (Aquitaine) and in adjoining regions.

With the introduction of the 2009 central system official plates were abolished, these vehicles now carry normal numbers.

Military and gendarmerie plates

Top: Gendarmerie motorcycle plate. 6 = army and gendarmerie, 3 = 1973, 9 = motorcycle.

Bottom: Army rear plate. 6 = army and gendarmerie, 82 = 1982, 3 = truck, tractor or other machine.

With the introduction of the 2009 central registration system these plates were restricted to combat vehicles. Civilian type vehicles now usually receive normal series plates.
Diplomatic front plate. 100 = Senegal.
Consular rear plate. 59 = Israel, 75 = Ville de Paris.

 Temporary, provisional and trade plates
Temporary rear plate, 75 = Ville de Paris. Before 1984, the expiration date was not shown on the plate
Temporary rear plate,expiring January 1989, IT = foreign cultural staff and the like, 01 = Ain. IT series plates are the only French plates using the letter I.

Provisional numbers in the form of a sticker, 92 = Essonne.
Provisional number. WW2 = valid for export out of France, 75 = Ville de Paris.
Provisional motorcycle plate. 57 = Moselle.

This is an error plate, there never was a WW6 series. Most likely the number was actually WWG.
1969-1995 plate for car imported from Germany.

When a French bought a used car in Germany, he could keep the German number (on a yellow plate) for four months to drive in France. This practice was unofficial. Although this plate has a German number and was made in Germany, I decided to consider it French, because its legal (or at least customary) basis is French.
2009 onwards provisional plate. 33 = Gironde, Aquitaine Region.
2009 onwards trade plate. 33 = Gironde, Aquitaine Region.
2009 onwards temporaty plate, expiring November 2009.

See also from the Military Forces Abroad page:

 Supreme Headquarters of Allied powers in Europe
SHAPE Fontainbleau (France) personnel plate, series until 1968. In that year France left NATO and SHAPE was moved to Brussels.

 French forces in Germany
Official motorcycle plate, probably from the 1950s or 1960s.
Current series for private vehicles. Second digit 3 = Landau/Pfalz (issued until 1999).

 German forces in France
Current private vehicle plate. DF 4xxx = Eurocorps.

 United States forces in France
1954-1958 series private vehicle plate.
1958-1961 series private vehicle plate.
1961-1968 private vehicle plate. This is the last series, since U.S. Forces left France in 1968.

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