Frenchmen and Berets

As I noted in earlier post, I have been reading a lot about France lately.

One thing that really struck me was the berets! So many Frenchmen still wear these things. In the rural areas and especially among older Frenchmen, berets are almost ubiquitous. Even younger Frenchmen often wear berets. These are often guys from the more rural areas of France who are often deeply steeped in French history, culture and literature. Call them traditional intellectuals if you will.

In the larger cities, especially in Paris, I am not sure how prominent berets are. Among the corporate types and the more modern crowd, they may well be going out in big cities.

I also saw many pictures of France from a while back. It seems that for a long time from about 50 years ago and before, every single Frenchman wore a beret! You will not see a picture of ordinary Frenchmen pre-1960 where they are not wearing berets. I believe in Picasso and Jacques Cousteau wore berets, n’est-ce pas?

It seems that for a long time in the 19th and 20th centuries, the beret was simply a part of the Frenchman’s daily uniform.

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0 thoughts on “Frenchmen and Berets”

  1. I spent a week in Paris a few years ago, and I saw only two guys wearing berets, for what it’s worth. Interestingly, I wear a fishing-type vest with a lot of pockets all the time, and the first time I went to Paris, I didn’t bring it, because I didn’t want to be conspicuous, but dozens of Frenchmen were wearing one, including a cartoonist I saw on TV there who had one just like mine, probably for the same reason — lots of room for pens and stuff — me being a cartoonist, too. So the second time I went, I wore the vest and my usual tam-o-shanter,
    and I guess it made me look French, because people kept asking me for directions on the street.

    1. Yes, but that was Paris. I have been to a lot of French blogs lately written by intellectuals from the rural areas of France. In their profile photos, they are often wearing berets. I also saw a recent photo of a market in a rural area of France on a weekend. The farmers were mostly older men, and it seemed like every single one of them was wearing a beret. I have seen many individual photos of farmers in the countryside lately, and it seemed like they were all wearing berets.

  2. I spent two weeks this summer in the south of France (Midi-Pyrénées). Didn’t see a single beret, in the countryside or town. I’ve seen more berets in London.

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