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French tricolour flag, the "Tricolore"

French tricolour flag, the “Tricolore” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To continue with this theme from my last post, some Symbols of the French Republic (for which my son apparently got an “A” on his report card,) were at his school. Besides the French flag, which is commonly flown in front of state schools and government institutions (as it is done in Canada too with its maple leaf flag), in the hall of my children’s school was a bust of Marianne and a display of the national motto, “LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ” (=liberty, equality, brotherhood). Which sounds a lot more united than the Canadian motto “A Mari usque ad Mare” (Latin=”from sea to sea”). Maybe Canada needs an alluring, busty woman rather than a beaver to represent our nation…

—Bra-less bust of Marianne, auspiciously towering over the memorial plaque that honours lost WW1 soldiers from that school. Beside it is the Declaration of Rights of Man and the [French] Citizen (with the national motto). That is one heavy, symbolic school wall.

—Bra-less bust of Marianne, auspiciously towering over the memorial plaque that honours lost WW1 soldiers from that school. Beside it is the Declaration of Rights of Man and the [French] Citizen (with the national motto). That is one heavy, symbolic school wall.

According to Wikipedia, Marianne represents the state and values of France. While she can often be found on French stamps and coins, I only really noticed her when I first stepped out of the “RépubliqueParis Métro station to register my kids for school at the local mairie (=town hall). We actually ate lunch at her feet because at that time, you could cross the street onto the crazy square Place de la République where she watches over the chaotic traffic that must manoeuvre around her with its poorly-designed, criss-crossing roads.  It was very surreal. [Reconstruction of the area surrounding Marianne started before we left in the summer of 2012. Had I known, I would have taken photos of that crazy junction before it changes into a civilized roadway. Click here for the future vision.]

Statue place République Paris.jpg

Statue of Marianne at Place de la Republique. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Interestingly, the symbolic French anthem La Marseillaise was not played/sung daily at my children’s public school in Paris. [I remember singing the Canadian national anthem as a child in school every morning start. Now it is played without lyrics daily in schools and my kids don’t even know all the words!] We heard it throughout Bastille Day (=French Independence Day) and whenever we saw the (now ex-)president Nicolas Sarkozy on TV at important functions. The music is quite passionate.

Throughout my life in Canada, there was always a photo portrait of Queen Elizabeth in public school. I have yet to see Prime Minister Harper hanging on any school walls. So I was a little surprised to see President Sarkozy on a separate wall near Marianne.

There was always a photo portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in public school while I grew up. I have yet to see Prime Minister Harper hanging on any school walls. So I was a little surprised to see President Sarkozy on a separate wall near Marianne.

Too bad the French weren’t too passionate about this guy anymore. I suspect his portrait has been replaced by now. I love the library background though– I almost chose the same one for my son’s school pictures!

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