Why are French people often represented with a beret? Peasant farmers from Brittany, France, known as Onion Johnnies, rode bicycles selling onions door to door in Great Britain. Dressed in striped shirts and berets, the Onion Johnnie became the stereotypical image of the Frenchman. The beret came to symbolize the Frenchman, as this was in many cases the only contact that the ordinary Briton had with France. Today, the beret remains a strong symbol of the unique identity of Western France.