Origins of “La Lanterne Rouge”

La Lanterne Rouge

The phrase comes from the French “Red Lantern” and refers to the red lantern hung on the caboose of a railway train. Conductors were assured to see the Lanterne Rouge when they looked back down the line, as it meant that none of the couplings had become disconnected and the train was still whole.

In the Tour de France the rider who finishes last, rather than dropping out along the way, is accorded a distinction known as:  

La Lanterne Rouge.





Lanterne Stamp T4 cropped Red on Pink disc