"Finally, what is a béret?" Nay Things to Do Tip by kokoryko

Nay Things to Do: 11 reviews and 50 photos

  Typical béret
by kokoryko
  • Typical béret - Nay
      Typical béret
    by kokoryko
  • Colours  (from  www.basquexplorer.com) - Nay
      Colours (from www.basquexplorer.com)
    by kokoryko
  • In a village, - Nay
      In a village,
    by kokoryko
  • Petanque players - Nay
      Petanque players
    by kokoryko
  • young kokoryko - Nay
      young kokoryko
    by kokoryko

A Béret is made of wool and it is not just a circular piece of cloth cut from common textile. Originally the bérets were hand-knitted by the shepherds when they were watching their sheep flocks. Nowadays it is still wool but machine knitted. Once a knitted piece is big enough it is “beaten” with wooden hammers till it becomes felt, like a billiard carpet.
Then it is coloured (originally they had the colour of the wool and in many Pyrenean valleys the sheep were brown), then they are grated and shaved and finally a leather band and a piece of satin inside are sewn to finish this piece of art! More (and better?) explanations at the Musée du Béret (next tip).
Why do many people call it a Béret Basque or a Basque? Nothing is sure: it is said Napoleon III supervising the construction of the palace of Eugenie in Biarritz, saw many people wearing a beret and thought it was a local headgear, and told about “beret Basque”, and as he was an emperor, nobody dared to contradict. . . . A more prosaic explanation is that Basque traders bulk-bought berets in Bearn and then retailed them with Basque village names.
What is sure, this headgear is a symbol for French, Basque, bearnese people. Even a young kokoryko wore it long time ago. . . . . .

Main picture: A Béret on a Bearnese head in Pau
Picture 2: A colour assortment (www.basquexplorer.com)
Picture 3: Just a passer-by in a village
Picture: 4 Petanque player wear berets also
Picture: 5 Young kokoryko (posing here, but knew to drive that kind of team)

Directions: Best is to go to the next tip where is information about the béret museum.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jan 26, 2007
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