Revolution and the eventual creation of la République française contribute in part to the importance of national identity in France today. We have found that many French are keen to know our nationalities (even if they are less interested in the distinctions between the two Washingtons). To our faces, most are kind and nod knowingly when we explain where we are from. (We've heard our share of derisive comments about being American, mostly from French middle school kids and we ignore these as much as we can). The French also seem to assert their nationality proudly, and many want to know how we, as Americans, like France. We are asked this almost weekly. Many seem satisfied when we tell about our appreciations for French food and the French lifestyle. Others agree with our frustrations with French bureaucracy. Still others want to know more; last fall I had a conversation with a doctor who spoke in generalizations with me about what "the French" think about politics and feminism, and she wanted me to comment on what "the Americans" think. It was very difficult for me to speak for Americans on any of the issues we discussed without carefully qualifying my remarks. I thought it was interesting that she did not qualify whom she was speaking for, when we do know that being French does not have the same meaning for all who live here nor does it seem to include everyone, especially those who don't necessarily look or act the part.
Image of U.S.: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/30/Washington_in_United_States.svg/270px-Washington_in_United_States.svg.png
Image of France: https://encrypted-tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRjZ6Kt7_6rCwbYsL1-Wrf2M_gtNWzu7wkZzVL-zGWqc7WIFwIh
Image of Aix-en-Provence: http://en.aixenprovencetourism.com/photos_provence/355-plan-centre-a-imprimer.jpg