France has been a cultural centre of the world for many centuries. Known for its alluring art, architecture, music, language, cuisine, and of course fashion, its rich and diverse culture dates back thousands of years. Now let’s enjoy the charm of French culture and look at some of its popular cultural icons.
The Eiffel Tower 埃菲尔铁塔
You can’t possibly go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Even if you don’t visit this world- famous structure, you will see its top from all over Paris. The tower rises over 300 meters; when it was completed at the end of the 19th century it was twice as high as the Washington Monument, at the time the tallest structure in the world.
The Eiffel Tower was built for the World’s Fair in 1889, held in celebration of the centennial of the French Revolution in 1789.
The man behind the Eiffel Tower was Gustave Eiffel1) and the structure took more than two years to complete. When built, there were protests from contemporary artists who feared the construction would be the advent of structures without “individuality”, and many who feared that this huge “object” would not fit into the architecture of Paris. The tower was only meant to last for the duration of the Fair, but it obviously still stands today.
Today, there is no such aversion2) anymore among Parisians, and one could not imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower. In fact, it has become the most recognizable symbol of the City of Light.
The Champs Elysees forms the backbone of Paris’s cultural and commercial hub. The long, straight stretch of road is a wide boulevard3), flanked4) with trees, shops, boutiques5) and restaurants. The 3km-long street originated in the 17th century, with the first records indicating it was first formed in 1616. Queen consort6) of France, Italian-born Marie de Medici, ordered an avenue of trees to adorn7) the newly stretched boundaries of the Palais des Tuileries8)’ gardens. From these origins of being a mere boundary, the Champs Elysees soon grew to be an important throughway in Paris. By the end of the 18th century, it had gained a reputation as a fashionable avenue, a reputation it still holds to this day.
The term “Champs Elysees” derives from the Greek mythological story of the Elysian Fields9) where the blessed go after death. With rows of trees and decorated sidewalks, which become illuminated at night, the Champs Elysees has often been referred to as the most beautiful avenue in the world.
The Champs Elysees is also an important area to stage public events in France. There are numerous ceremonies and celebrations in which the French customarily flock to the famous boulevard. The annual Bastille Day10) celebrations are held on the grand avenue each year. French citizens, along with the President of the Republic, gather to celebrate the day in which French partisans11) stormed the famous Bastille prison, the event that triggered the French Revolution. This large procession, which includes a review of the French troops by the President, takes place each year on July 14th.
“Champs Elysees”这一名称源于希腊神话故事中的“Elysian Fields”,指的是受上天庇护之人的灵魂居住的冥界乐土。香榭丽舍大道佳木成行,人行道精心装饰,夜晚华灯异彩,常被冠以“世界上最美丽的大街”的美誉。
The Béret 贝雷帽
The simple black French béret has been a popular image and symbol of France for a long time. While many believe it originated among the Basques12), it in fact, likely came from Béarn, a region in Southwest France.
The classical French béret is a brimless, loose-fitting, round flat cap made from the finest wool and dyed in either black or navy blue, with a short tab13) on top. Modern French hat designers have slightly modified the classical style, using wool felt14) or acrylic15) and have developed a wide assortment of bright fashionable colours to suit all tastes.
Throughout the early part of the 1900s the béret was very widely worn in France by shepherds, farmers, school boys, painters, and of course French artists.
The French military béret originated from the wide and floppy16) headdress worn by the Chasseurs alpins (light mountain infantry17)) from its founding in the early 1880s. A tight-fitting version was subsequently adopted by French armoured troops towards the end of World War I. During the Second World War the béret became a symbol of French Patriotism.
Today the beret is closely associated with the military, police and special forces units throughout the world. Yet its endearing quality and style makes it still very much a French icon.
It was in the 17th century when French alchemists and idealists began to conjure up18) French perfume. Since then, with each century that passes, French perfume gains more and more of a reputation for being classic, universal and timeless. No one makes perfume like the French do. It’s in their blood. French perfume is the fragrance of artists, dreamers, philosophers, and wanderers. It seems to come naturally to the French to admire things of great beauty or mystery, and then to recreate them in a new and shimmering light.
The heart of the French perfume industry lies in Grasse, a small city on the French Riviera. Grasse is also considered the capital of the perfume world at large19). It creates some of the most beloved fragrances the world over.
French perfume masters say the most fundamental ingredient in their fragrances is civet20). This musk from a cat-like animal of the same name is considered by many to be the fragrance of the heart of France. It is a pungent symbol of pride for the country. Two other essential foundations for French perfume are lavender21) and jasmine22).
French perfume is the fragrance of romantics. It is often given as a gift between lovers, accompanied by roses. Good examples of French perfumes are Chanel Number 5, Lancome, Coty, Shalimar, and Cartier. They are above reprove. No other perfumes in the world compare to these special fragrances from France.
The French baguette法棍
The French baguette is synonymous with French culture and cuisine all over the world. This French bread is the most prominent symbol of daily Parisian life. The bread is made from lean dough without the inclusion of preservatives23). In fact, it is against French law to use preservatives in bread. So the baguette is made every morning in bakeries across France. It is characterized by its long length, its crisp, delicious crust and the slit cuts on top, that are actually made to enable the proper expansion of gases, which in turn are responsible for the crumb24), or the soft inside of the bread.
A freshly baked baguette is simply too mouth-watering to resist and it is not unusual to see many people sitting on a park bench in Paris in the morning enjoying a fresh baguette with jelly. The present day baguette is considered to be the descendant of a type of bread from Austria which was appropriately called pain viennois, or Venetian bread, since it was made in Vienna. Pain viennois was made in deck or steam ovens in Vienna, and were only brought to Paris in the mid nineteenth century. The first French baguette was baked in the same type of oven and there has been no looking back25) for the bagnette since then.
1. Gustave Eiffel:古斯塔夫·埃菲尔(1832～1923),法国土木工程师、金属结构专家、作家
2. aversion [E5vE:FEn] n. 讨厌的人和事物
3. boulevard [5bu:lIvB:d] n.〈美〉林荫大道
4. flank [flANk] vt. 位于……的侧面
5. boutique [bu:5ti:k] n. 专卖流行衣服的小商店
6. queen consort:王后,皇后
7. adorn [E5dC:n] vt. 装饰
8. Palais des Tuileries:杜伊勒里花园,当时的法国王后玛丽·德·梅德西斯下旨建造的皇家花园
9. Elysian Fields:乐土,极乐世界
10. Bastille Day:巴士底日,又称法国国庆日,于每年的7月14日举行,是为了纪念在1789年7月14日巴黎群众攻占了象征封建统治的巴士底监狱(即下文中提到的Bastille prison)。这一事件揭开了法国大革命的序幕。
11. partisan [pB:tI5zAn] n. 虔诚的信徒,热情的支持者
12. Basque [bAsk] n. 巴斯克人(居住在西班牙和法国毗临比斯开湾的比利牛斯西部地区一个民族中一员)
13. tab [tAb] n. 帽耳
14. wool felt:羊毛毡,羊毛毯
15. acrylic [E5krIlIk] n. [化]丙烯酸(类)纤维
16. floppy [5flCpI] adj. 松垂的,松软的
17. infantry [5InfEntrI] n. 步兵,步兵团
18. conjure up:相出,设想
19. at large:全体;普遍地
20. civet [5sIvIt] n.香猫香,麝猫香(这些哺乳动物分泌的粘稠、黄色有麝香味的液体,用于香水的制作)
21. lavender [5lAvIndE] n. [植] 熏衣草属,熏衣草花
22. jasmine [5dVAsmIn] n. 茉莉
23. preservative [prI5zE:vEtIv] n. 防腐剂,保护剂
24. crumb [krQm] n. 面包心(面包内部的柔软部分)
25. no looking back:(=never looking back)赢得胜利,赢得辉煌,茁壮成长