As a Canadian, if I was to tell you the colors of my nation’s flag, I would say, “red and white.” I wouldn’t say white and red. Similarly, Suzy Gershman, the author of C’est La Vie is an American and she is accustomed to saying, “red, white and blue.” Well, she narrates a moment when she recommended to a group of Frenchmen that the colors should be like the French flag, “red, white and blue.” After a moment of confusion, one of the French men nodded his head in understanding as he corrected her and said, “blue, white and red.” Interestingly, the author didn’t seem to acknowledge that his confusion made sense and that it was most logical that just as we are used to saying our flag’s colors in a certain order, his order made sense also. Just look at the flag and what color would you say first? However, after googling the “French flag,” the answer to my question may not be so obvious.
Most sites seemed to describe the French flag much like the one from a U.K. site: “As the above picture of the French flag indicates, the overall background is red, white and blue.”!!! http://www.flags-flags-flags.org.uk/french-flag.htm
Well, I have no answers for this oddity, but in the meantime, I did learn that the French Flag with its three equal vertical bands is known as the French Tricouleur. I also learned that each color is symbolic of specific virtues: blue is for vigilance, truth and loyalty, white is for peace and honesty, and red for hardiness and bravery . There is quite a bit of history attached to the significance of the flag, but as I skimmed a rather lengthy article, I decided that all I really wanted to remember was the significance of the colors, and that the French Revolution inaugurated the French tricolor flag, and even more importantly to be able to say respectfully, “blu, blanc et rouge.”