Monday, April 6

I Love Paris: Top 10 Things I Learned from My Latest Read


Top 10 Things I Learned from the Book Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Your Inner French Girl

10) This book about the enduring allure and mystery of the French woman was a delightful read. Providing one American woman's thoughtful, honest perspective about that je ne sais quoi modern French women seem to possess, the book was both entertaining and informative.

9) If a French woman's fashion sense can be described as, "Less is more," this book wasn't very French. The author's delightful prose is most insightful, carefully pointing out sometimes subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle differences between French and American femmes. But I felt irritated by the frequent distractions of small tidbits of information interspersed in small boxes and sidebars - ie: French women we love; wonderful French Films; delicious recipes. While the information contained in these snippets was good, the boxes they were in were visually distracting, and the information interrupted the reading, causing me to perpetually flip back and forth between pages and interrupting my train of thought.

8) Of all of the cultures I've encountered (which are admittedly very few...), I believe that the French take more pleasure in the day-to-day living of their lives via food than any other culture. Meal time is sacred and special, to be enjoyed with family or friends, and always sitting at a proper table, with dishes, actual silverware (not plastic-ware) and cloth napkins… never out of a paper bag riding down the street in a car, or sipped through a straw while hurrying down the sidewalk. I feel their incorporation of food as a vehicle of pleasure, at every single meal, is not only admirable, but enviable.

7) According to the author, French women are less risky than Americans with their personal styles, but more thoughtful. A French girl spends a lifetime honing her look, in both fashion and d├ęcor, slowly collecting only the best items of the finest quality that fit perfectly. When they find a hairstyle, suit cut or objet d’art that works for them they stick to it.

6) This takes us into the realm of the French woman’s “uniform.” After years of collecting only the best quality clothing that she absolutely adores, there will not often be surprises in the French girl's dress, but everything will be beautiful and tasteful and fit her like a glove – even the simple jeans and tee that she pulls on to browse the flea market on a Saturday morning. She will not necessarily have several different “looks,” because the look she wears is always thoughtfully put together and does much to flatter her. While I am personally ALWAYS changing my hair, this theory of dress is something I completely embrace. I have well-worn and -loved items in my closet that I pull out year after year, and I am religious about ONLY keeping the things at hand that fit – no too-small-jeans that I’m going to fit into one day… just the things that look great on me today – thus celebrating where I am, and also making my closet much less cluttered.

5) French women will not usually be overweight. Also, they will never compromise on the quality of food that they eat; however they will likely not ever step a beautifully pedicured toe into a gym. I know. This seems impossible. But, it is true that they always choose only the freshest, seasonal ingredients for their meals, and the naturally eat small portions, helping to keep their waistlines trim. If they DO notice clothing getting a bit too tight, they will not go purchase the newest diet book, torture themselves at the gym or buy new, (larger) clothing (all of which I’ve regretfully resorted to doing at one time or another…). However, they will quietly cut back on their eating until they are feeling back to themselves again.


This concept is one I’ve personally struggled with, but I’m learning to embrace. I have gained and lost weight entirely too many times. As I currently work on the journey back down the scale, I am doing my best to maintain some indulgences, eat delicious foods, including desserts, but just with smaller portions, just like the French girl. I am ridding myself of clothes that have grown too large, eliminating my safety net, and working to exercise daily. Hopefully, this balance will get me, and keep me, fit and trim without having to endure dreadful ingredients like low fat cheese, skim milk and Splenda… things the perpetually thin French woman would never even consider.

4) Despite her shape (thick, thin, curvy, willowy...) a French woman always feels at home in her own body. I don’t think this is just a French feeling, but I believe women all over Europe do not have the negative issues with their body images that American women do. They understand their shapes and they dress to flaunt their assets, period. They celebrate their bodies daily and refine them ritually.That is something we could ALL take a lesson in doing.

3) The French woman nurtures an extremely guarded sense of privacy, often taking years to develop a close frienship, and certainly never spilling her guts to someone she just met in the line at the grocery store. This is highlighted by the title of the book, Entre Nous, meaning, "just between us." This extreme privacy goes a long way toward the perpetuation of the "mystique" French women seemingly possess. One of these tight-lipped women will not even let you know where she bought her new dress, much less will she air her family's dirty laundry to anyone other than a confidant.


Such privacy I can barely fathom. For good or ill, I am an open book. I will tell anyone almost anything, anytime. However, most of American women could take a lesson from the fair Frenchies by not being so forthcoming with the 4-1-1 on where you got your fabulous shoes and just how great the sale was. So, you got that beautiful dress at Target... wouldn't you rather admirers of it to wonder if maybe you've been shopping coture instead of bargain basement? When you get the urge to spill those beans, just bite your tongue... and take a step toward increasing your own feminine mystique.

2) Authenticity goes a long way with the French woman. She might have to save her pennies for months or even years for a fabulous designer handbag, but she would never be caught dead with a knockoff. She does not want imitation (not imitation eggs, imitation leather, or imitation antiques), and she will wait until she can get her hands on the real thing. She doesn't buy things just to be spending money, and doesn't hop on board with the newest pop-star style that she saw on the boob tube (Heck it's likely that she doesn't even own a boob tube.)... I definitely agree with the French ab0ut this! I'm just dreaming of the day I can walk in to a Louis Vuitton store and pay full price for the classy bag I've desired for years...

1) While highly entertaining, this book in large part is highly generalized. Just as there are so many types of American women that volumes could be written about us in categories such as age group, ethnic heritage, region, profession etc, ad nauseum, I belive that French women are just as varied and interesting. A whole country of women who adore cooking, love flea markets and inherit their great grandmother’s antique linens and treasured faience would be boring and absurd. But then again, stereotypes are generally born for a reason…

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