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Les Trente Glorieuses

How It's Used

"The spirit of the late General de Gaulle is very much around as France has indulged in an autumn orgy of nostalgia for 'the man who said no' and 'les trente glorieuses', the era of postwar prosperity that he dominated. Even the Socialist M Jospin has seized the mantle of le grand Charles, basking in acclaim for his Gaullist posture in standing up against Brussels over le rosbif anglais. In the public mythology encouraged by the politicians, the European Union, that Frenchinspired creation, has now been abandoned to the clutches of the Anglo-Saxons and their free-market allies.The Union and its Brussels executive are no longer seen as a bulwark of Gallic interests but rather as a free-trade bulldozer that is smashing down cherished French traditions such as the state monopoly on public services, huge farm subsidies and the right to kill small birds."

—Charles Bremner, "The French paradox: They hate the US, they fear the EU, and at every turn they see assaults on their Gallic soul," The Times (UK), December 22, 1999.

"He was in real life Jacques Tatischeff (1907-82), and his film career coincided almost exactly with France's trente glorieuses, its three prosperous decades from 1945 to 1975. His six feature films ran from 'Jour de fete' (1949) to 'Parade' (1973). They included, most famously for American audiences, 'Mr. Hulot's Holiday' (1953), an almost wordless comedy of manners set at a French resort, where characters intersect more than interact and so much goes awry (think: open door, windy day)."

—David Jacobson, "That Strange Gentleman With the Pipe," The Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2000, p. A20.

"In the second world war, French industry tarnished itself by collaboration with the Nazis. Come 1945, it was logical for the state, besides setting up its own oil company, to nationalise the electricity and gas companies, the Renault car company, the insurance companies and the banks.

"What followed was what the French love to call les trente glorieuses, the 30 glorious years in which the birth rate, the economy and living standards all boomed in unison. Indeed, the public still laud Electricite de France (EDF) and Gaz de France (GDF) for restoring the nation's light and heat in the war's aftermath-a reputation that helped mute the criticism of EDF at the end of 1999 when hurricanes left much of France in prolonged darkness. When Francois Mitterrand brought the left back to power in 1981, it was with a mandate not, like Margaret Thatcher in 1979, to roll back the frontiers of the state but to extend them. He nationalised 36 banks and the leading companies in chemicals, glass, aluminium, electronics and armaments. Almost at a stroke, the state's share of industrial output rose from 15% to 30%."

—no author, "Most Europeans have gained from privatisation, and most believe in market forces. France's rulers and citizens alike believe in neither," The Economist, May 26, 2001.

"For the next 30 years, France celebrated its nuclear dominance. These were the years of the 'Trente Glorieuses' (Glorious Thirties) [sic], three decades of uninterrupted economic expansion, and the mood was optimistic. Nuclear power was judged to be a contributing factor in the nation's economic success."

—Michel Rival, "Nuclear Power Reconsidered: Can Our Choking Planet Afford to Ignore a Nuclear Alternative? The French Idea," The Boston Globe, February 3, 2002,  p. C8.

"Although Sheehan's title alludes to Europe since 1945, almost two-thirds of his narrative deals with the years up to then -- but in a way those earlier years answer the question he poses. By the second half of the 20th century, having given a most vivid demonstration of Walter Benjamin's saying that civilization and barbarism are far from incompatible, Europe was exhausted and ashamed. For all the exigencies of the cold war, there was an overwhelming desire never again to see real war, between France and Germany or among their neighbors.

"The trente glorieuses after VE-Day saw three decades of astonishing economic growth, which coincided with another most remarkable change: 'With or without a fight, Europeans abandoned their empires.'

—Geoffrey Wheatcroft, "Europeans Are From Venus," The New York Times, February 10, 2008.


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