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La Belle Vie: The beret cliché and other signs of French style

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
La Belle Vie: The beret cliché and other signs of French style
A France fan wears a beret with his face painted in the national colours during a match between France and Albania at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille on June 15, 2016. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

From French dress codes to overrated tourist sites and how France will mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, this week's La Belle Vie newsletter offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like a French person.

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La Belle Vie is our regular look at the real culture of France – from language to cuisine, manners to films. This newsletter is published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to your newsletter preferences in “My account”.

My five-year anniversary of living in France is coming up this September, and in the last few years I have acquired one very useless skill. I can spot, with relative accuracy, tourists from a mile away. 

A lot of times, it comes down to facial expressions and dress. Tourists might have confused expressions while carefully navigating with Google Maps; they might sport a backpack or be dressed differently.

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Another tell-tale sign is the beret, which I would argue has had a resurgence since Emily in Paris first started airing. In Paris, I've noticed that the French headgear is more common amongst tourists than the French themselves, which begs the question of why we even associate berets with France in the first place.

Why are berets so synonymous with France?

I'd like to say that there is no single way to dress like a French person, though maybe I'm missing some of the cues because people can often tell I am foreign before even hearing my accent. 

The other day, I went into a French pastrami sandwich shop (out of curiosity), and before I opened my mouth to order, the server spoke to me in clear English: "What would you like today?" I responded in French, asking how he had deduced my nationality so quickly, and he shrugged "Most of our customers are foreigners".

I would say I have changed my appearance somewhat since I moved to France - I wear less makeup (with the exception of red lipstick) and avoid athleisure outside of the gym. But I refuse to give up bright colours, even if that makes me look non-French forever.

How to dress like a French woman: Five tips to remember (and five to forget)

France is a popular location for tourists - it consistently ranks in the top countries in the world to visit. 

There is one nationality that stands above the others. People from this country make roughly 13 million trips to France in the course of a year (some of which may be the same people making multiple trips).

Brits, Americans or Germans – who visits France the most?

When visiting a new country, it can be tricky to decipher which tourist attractions are actually worthwhile and which ones are crowded and expensive. We're asking readers to help us write up a guide.

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If you have a moment, fill out our short survey on which tourist sites you consider to be the most overrated, and where would you recommend visiting instead.

TELL US: What is France's most overrated tourist site?

One event that promises to offer a lot is the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France. There are dozens of events scheduled across Normandy, so there will be something for everyone.

From historical re-enactments and parachute drops to art exhibits, parades and live music, people of all ages will be able to learn something about the important moment in both French and global history.

What to expect for the 80th anniversary of D-Day in France

And if you're looking for a heartwarming love story, look no further than that of US Air Force veteran Harold Terens, aged 100. After surviving several near death experiences, Terens will be honoured for his participation in the D-Day landings this June. 

A few days afterwards, he will exchange vows with his bride-to-be, close to the beaches where thousands of soldiers waded ashore in 1944. The town's mayor will preside over the ceremony.

US centenarian WWII vet to marry in Normandy 80 years after Allied landing

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