I live in Paris just by that vast grassy square, the Champ de Mars, almost in the shadow of the colossal iron structure that dominates it, the Eiffel Tower. And it came as a surprise (not only to me but, I suspect, to a lot of Parisians) to be reminded in the spring of our Bicentenary year, 1989, that the Eiffel Tower was built to mark the Centenary of the French Revolution; that is, just over a hundred years ago, in 1889. For the French, the Eiffel Tower is primarily a symbol of Paris, of the popularity of Paris and of France all over the world; it is the very image of France to the millions of tourists who flock here. It is also the place from which our first radio programmes were broadcast and is still one of our principal transmission centres. So perhaps the Eiffel Tower in 1989 was a fitting symbol with which to mark not only the French Revolution but also the centenary of the birth of John Reith. And the Champ de Mars, as we shall see, certainly embodies messages from history that we might wish to heed today.
KeywordsGreat Building French Revolution Democratic Culture French Citizen Common Cultural Heritage
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