History looms large in contemporary France. The teaching of history is central to French school curricula, and the writing of history by French scholars is renowned worldwide. Local councils and the central state invest in elaborate displays of the past to attract tourist revenues, and the passion for heritage (le patrimoine) is widespread in France. History and remembrance are physically everywhere in France, from the poignant war memorials in the tiniest French village and the vast Allied cemeteries of northern France, to the huge, enigmatic brown signs beckoning motorists to exit France’s motorways and explore local history and tradition. In imagining the past, we conjure up regimes toppling in chaotic crisis; larger-than-life monarchs, emperors, dictators and presidents; centuries-long, bloody wars, preferably waged against the ‘English’, or between religions; and we are invited to shudder at the sights and smells of the 1789 French Revolution and ‘the figure of the sharp female called La Guillotine’ (Dickens, 2000: 283).
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- History and Legacies
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number