This essay examines the peculiarity of the relationship between liberalism and institutions in France, especially in comparison with the experiences of Great Britain and the United States. For the author, the distinctive characteristic of French political culture lies in the fact that, in France, the idea of sovereignty as a transcendent unit continued through the Revolution, transferring itself from monarch to nation, considered as the society ‘crowned by political sovereignty’, at once a collective and institutional entity. Since the Revolution, the ways in which the nation has been variously interpreted as a transcendent institution, between the people and the body of the law, are also examined in relation to the different conceptions and procedures of the executive – a particularly complex theme, this, for French constitutionalism. Considerable space is given over to the question of how far liberal thought was present during the periods of the Restauration (1814-1830) and the Monarchie de Juillet (1830-1848). Following the setting up of the Third Republic, the most parliamentary until then, and of the Fourth – which defined parliament’s role more explicitly – the Fifth Republic, with the 1958 Constitution, ‘blended together the revolutionary principles of national sovereignty and human rights and the logic of parliamentary government’ in a new perspective of the nation concept.