Thursday, April 28, 2022

A German Look on French berets

This beautiful video deals with all clichés about Frenchmen and berets in particular. 

It is also full of interesting information about the Basque beret (and it looks like the author must have visited The Beret Project regularly during his creating process).

Unfortunately the text is in French, but a translation follows below:

Hans Biedermann from Buxtehude finds himself very embarrassed on leaving the Louvre. He is looking for someone to ask how to get to the Musée d´Orsay. However, he sees only easily recognizable tourists. Japanese cameras, Americans wearing baseball caps, Germans wearing Birkenstocks and gesticulating Italians.

Among all these foreigners, how can Hans Biedermann from Buxtehude detect a real Frenchman? The answer is very simple, everyone knows, thanks to countless cartoons, what a real Frenchman looks like.

We recognize him thanks to his moustache, the baguette he holds under his arm, the bottle of red wine which sometimes protrudes from his pocket, but above all thanks to the Basque beret, permanently screwed on his head.

This headgear is so typical of France that in Germany it is even called "French beret" or downright "French lid". Hans Biedermann from Buxtehude goes straight to the first Basque beret wearer.

And then, disappointment! The man comes from Neckar-Steinach and worships Che Guevara. The second beret wearer alas, is also German. He is a Francophile teacher, eco-friendly, green.

As for the third bearer of a Basque beret, no doubt, it can only be a Frenchman.

He also carries a baguette under his arm. But disappointment once again. This Frenchman is none other than a young alternative from Berlin.

Hans Biedermann from Buxtehude draws the following conclusion from this adventure: those who wear this typical French headgear are in fact German intellectuals; Francophiles who abhor both German hats and ridiculous baseball caps.

But why is this hat called “Basque beret”? This denomination comes from Emperor Napoleon III. While he was staying in the Basque Country with the Empress Eugénie, he noticed these berets and wrongly called them “Basque berets”.

And as no one dared to contradict the Monarch, the term imposed itself. In fact, the beret is a particularly appreciated hat in the South-West of France: in Béarn, Gascony and the Basque Country.

Originally knitted in wool, it was mainly worn by shepherds in the Pyrenees. Practical, indestructible, easy to fold or roll up to be stored in a pocket, it was adopted by many armies around the world.

In France, in the 1940s, the beret was in vogue and it was worn in almost all

the country. So much so that in Alsace-Lorraine, during the German Occupation, wearing a beret became a symbol of the Resistance and therefore ended up being banned there.

But ironically, the French Militia, this sinister brigade composed of the worst

collaborators, and who fought the resistance by the cruellest means, also adopted this typically French headgear.

And yet, the beret has not disappeared. And even this headgear which has meanwhile become a real classic, regularly returns to the fore. Even if is only on the heads Germans…

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