The Gendarmerie and Police Nationale have broadly similar roles but gendarmes work at a caserne (barracks) and are often in rural areas and suburbs, whereas a police station (commissariat) is more often found in cities.
Gendarmes are part of the military and are under the joint responsibility of the Interior and Defence Ministries. They are soldiers and their name comes from gens d’armes, “armed people”. The Police Nationale falls under the Interior Ministry and its officers are fonctionnaires.
There are also local police municipale forces under the mairie’s responsibility.
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