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“Our ancestors the Gauls were blond and blue-eyed”

Generations of French schoolchildren learnt this phrase at school. It matched a certain monolithic vision of history, which has been proved to be far too narrow if one is trying to understand what the ethnic make-up and heritage of the French may be: borders have fluctuated, armies have roamed through the country, migratory movements have happened. Asterix and Obélix, the cartoon figures of the rebellious Gauls, who refused Roman colonisation, may be popular, but are probably a product of wishful thinking rather than historical reality!

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