Friday, January 30, 2009


Today's Wonder of the World is...Marianne!

Flickr photo by zoreil
Marianne, the national emblem of the French Republic! The personification of liberty and reason!

Not to be confused with this Mary Ann.

Flickr photo by ark_phx
Though I like her too.

You may remember that I mentioned Marianne earlier in the week, when we talked about change.

Flickr photo by luxeurocoins
And then Wednesday, when we celebrated the hat, she crept into my thoughts again. Know why?

Flickr photo by
No, I'm not going to insult Marianne by comparing her to the Smurf. Look at the Smurf hats.
And then look at hers.

Photo by
They're wearing the same chapeau!
(By the way, you can find that lovely Marianne here.)
The hat is a Phrygian bonnet, worn in the Roman empire by slaves after they'd been freed by their masters, making them citizens. Perfect for Lady Liberty!

You can find Marianne in town halls and courts of law all over France.
She also hangs out in the sun...

Flickr photo by jul85
Standing up for human rights.

Marianne has changed through the ages, but haven't we all?
In 1970, Brigitte Bardot served as the model.

Flickr photo by hagerstenguy
Later she resembled Catherine Deneuve.

Flickr photo by sugarpie honeybunch
But in 1999, the mayors of France (all 36,000 of them) decided to vote amongst themselves for a new Marianne. The winner was Laetitia Casta.

She is gorgeous, isn't she? The only problem was that shortly after she became the emblem of France, she moved to London.
Also, there was a small rumor involving taxes.

After that, Marianne had a new face, a completely made up face that wouldn't move to London or have taxes to pay.
One that reflected the new multiculturalism of France, a Marianne with North African features.

Flickr photo by AlainG
Maybe this one? She's beautiful.

France has a new Marianne now. In 2003, the mayors took another vote, and boy, did it cause a raucous.

It's Evelyne Thomas, the host of C'est mon choix, (It's my choice,) the slightly trashy, very popular afternoon talk show I watched to improve my French. (At least that's the reason I told people!) The Parisian intelligentsia was not thrilled with the pick, but I think she's lovely.
Anyway, it was a fair election, and Marianne is all about liberty and freedom, right?
Besides, it's their choix!

Have a wonder-full Friday and a super weekend, y'all!
And before you go, take a look and listen to another famous lady of France, Madame Sarkozy, the First Lady of France.
The first time I heard Carla Bruni's sultry voice I was living my French life, on vacation in Corsica. We'd stopped at a potter's studio and I was walking around, admiring his work, as he sat at the wheel, talking with me. Her song came on the radio and I completely lost my train of thought. I've been listening to her ever since!
Love, Becky

PS. I'm not sure what the deal is about the man in the video. It cracks me up, but I don't think it's supposed to!

PS again What famous person would you pick to represent your country? Any thoughts?


Rebecca Ramsey said...

I just reread my post and the part about browsing around the potters studio in Corsica sounds a little ooh la la--and it doesn't quite tell the whole story. While Sarah and I were chatting with the potter, my sweet husband was outside trying to keep my wild boys from falling off a cliff or running in and breaking said pottery. It wasn't a long visit! :)

Parisienne Farmgirl said...

I always like Latitia as Marianne - and I'm a bit of a "royalist" too so that's saying a lot. I do love the famous painting of her leading the troops with the bleu, blanc, rouge, waving about!
Great post as usual.
Carla has been a fav in this house for years - we have just one of her CD's but play it over and over again.

Heliotrope Tree House said...

Excellent post. So interesting and informative. Thank you...Oh, so jealous of your vacation to Corsica...always been a dream of mine.

Ronnie said...

Enjoyed Carla whilst doing my banking this morning.
Thanks for the Marianne education. One of my best friends is named Marianne. She runs a lovely restaurant in St. Marys called Marianne's, of course. She doesn't look like any of France's Marianne's, however!
If I've forgotten to tell you, your book was an absolute joy to read.
Is the next one in the works?

Suzie said...

I would pick PEE wee herman. His fall from grace ...Im not sure but it sounded good in my head

adrienne said...

The man in the video was hilarious! Very strange.
I enjoyed the facts about Marianne.

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

HAHA--Smurf hat!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I think we already picked the person to represent our country:)
I love those early images of Marianne--so noble looking!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Good point, Green Girl!

lotusgirl said...

I always like Marianne while living in France--especially the older renderings of her. The new one looks fun too.

Meredith Teagarden said...

Very enlightening. I always say if something happens to my husband Jane ( my little girl) and I will up and move to Paris! Now I shall be more informed in the unlikely event I make Paris our home.

Carla's voice is incredible.

liquidambar said...

I had no idea the Smurfs wore Phrygian bonnets.

You learn something new every day!

Jenn H.

Frivolitea said...

What a fun and informative post!

Rosemary said...

Who knew?
I learn something everyday!!
Great post Rebecca!
Have a fun weekend.
You are right about the smurf hat!!
Chat soon,

May Vanderbilt said...

Wow! I didn't know Carla Bruni was...all talented and stuff. All I've ever hear about is her modeling and the long string of exes.


I guess I'd go with Angelina Jolie, if we had to pick a famous woman to represent us.

She's kind of wacky, she's made some mistakes, she's easy on the eyes, she has a blended family, and she really, really cares about the meek and the poor. That's very American, I think.

paris parfait said...

The guy in the background is supposed to represent Sarkozy - the song is about their romance. :) I never knew that about the Smurf hats. :) But I do admire all the Mariannes.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Oh! It all makes sense now. Thanks Tara!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Wait a sec, didn't the song come out in 2002? Have they been a thing that long?

Gina2424 said...

The president's wife: a model and singer. So interesting. And your post begs the quintessential question: Mary Ann or Ginger. I was asked that recently, and said I'd be Mary Ann with Ginger's wardrobe allowance. I thought it made perfect sense. What about you?

TattingChic said...

I remember your mentioning Marianne before! I found her quite intriguing! So glad to see you did a post just for her! :)

CC said...

I just have been thoroughly educated. In spite of 8 years of french class, I've never heard of Marianne.

Sherry said...

All day, all night, Marianne.
Down by the seashore, Sifting sand.

That's part of a song my dad used to sing. Just another Marianne, I guess.