40 Things I’ve Learned from the French

Tonya Headshot Paris Garden

As I sit and write this, I’m on a plane heading back home to the Colorado Rockies after a 2-week rendezvous in Paris.

The City of Lights feels like my home-away-from-home, and after this trip, I am more inspired than ever about French Kiss Life.

And, while I know that not everyone who reads my blog is a Francophile, I believe there is something to be learned from any culture.

One my of my life’s goals is to inspire women with more ease, elegance and style. For inspiration, studying the French lifestyle is always beyond helpful.

They constantly show me what a life lived well looks like and how how to achieve and cultivate it in my own life, from daily chores to throwing dinner parties.

And, as you probably know by now, I am entirely passionate about L’art de Vivre (the Art of Living.)

I do understand that the French aren’t perfect and, while I do try to avoid overly-sensationalizing them, I have been reminded of their passion for life over the last two weeks.

And, as with most things, I tend to take the parts that I enjoy and leave the rest behind.

What do I enjoy about the French lifestyle?  Well, it’s:

Quiet, yet bold.

Simple, yet rich.

Elegant, yet not extravagant.

During my time here, I have recorded and taken notes on what I truly appreciate and admire about the French culture. I will share my top 40 with you in hopes that maybe one, if not all, will inspire you to practice L’art de Vivre. 

  1. Time is more valuable than money.  You can make more money, but once a moment has passed, it’s gone. (Sidenote: Never ask a Frenchman how much money he makes.)
  2. It’s not quantity, but quality that matters.  A beautiful life has more to do with what you let go of than what you add.
  3. Life is about connection. Without relationships, what really is there? Treasure your family and friends.
  4. Food is to be celebrated and not obsessed over with calorie counting, shame-infliction or guilt.
  5. Solitude is to be enjoyed, not avoided.
  6. A woman has sacred information buried in her soul. Rather than share with the entire world, create your own Secret Garden.
  7. A meal is just as much about the conversation as it is the food.
  8. Beauty is simplistic and is found everywhere. One simply must look for it!
  9. The non-essentials of life are important and add sparkle and glamour to a rather ordinary day (i.e. candles, perfume, linens, etc.)
  10. Vintage is tres chic.
  11. Bigger is not always better. In fact, it’s rarely better.
  12. A Sub-zero and Viking oven is not necessary to cook a glorious meal.
  13. Aging is not to be avoided. but revered.
  14. Fresh flowers are a must in every home.  Flowers are nature’s Chanel.
  15. Walking is good for both physical and mental health.  Look for reasons to take more steps in your day.
  16. Wine is a way of life and an art form. Plus, it’s good for digestion.
  17. Every woman should have one great pair of shoes, a beloved handbag, a pair of chic shades, and several scarves.
  18. Bread is like water and wine: a necessity at every French meal.
  19. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
  20. Every meal should have a defining beginning and an end, not an all day grazing event.
  21.  There is an art to conversation.  Listen more than you speak.  And, be present.
  22. Self-care is a non-negotiable.
  23. Modern day conveniences are not always convenient in the long-term.
  24. A woman needs rituals and tradition to keep her grounded.
  25. Savor each and every moment. Memories are what we should hold most dear.
  26. Life is full of small pleasures. Appreciate the small and big things.
  27. Civility goes a long way.  Treat people with respect and kindness.
  28. Eat by the seasons and choose fruit and vegetables that belong in each.
  29. Read books that expand your intellectual capital.
  30. Beauty is love and love is beauty. The two are synonymous.
  31. Life cannot be enjoyed if you’re going too fast. Slow down. Breathe.
  32. How you live is far more important than where you live.
  33. Work to live; don’t live to work.
  34. Drink lots of water.  Perrier with lime is a fancy option.
  35. Going to a spa should be ranked up there with a yearly mammogram or dental visit.
  36. How you present yourself to the world is important. It’s one of the ways you tell others who you are without saying a word.
  37. Make your home life a priority.  Keep things neat and simple.
  38. Eat slowly and sit down to eat.
  39. Drink slowly and not in excess.  Use wine to complement your meal, not to zone out from your life.
  40. Live slowly.  And, you just may discover that you will accelerate the path to your dreams.

Anything you care to add?

Lovingly Yours,


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15 Responses to 40 Things I’ve Learned from the French

  1. I was just in paris this weekend for a quick getaway. Loved this article as there is much truth to it! There are a lot of positives to the lifestyle here. As a canadian who lives abroad (the french riviera) people often ask me WHY on earth would I leave the “north american dream” to settle in france when SO many french try to make it over there? Never having a sure response, I believe I’ve come to the conclusion it’s really just about the lifestyle. I do hold my north american mentality close to heart but I am and have always been attracted to the french culture since I was a kid. Living here I feel sometimes like my dream has been squashed because actually living in france as an integrated person in the society is not at all the same experience as vacationing in paris! but we can all certainly learn some things from their joie de vivre !

    • Brittany, thank you for your input! I agree. Just like any place: living their and vacationing their are two different things. However, I love bringing the French life-style into my own life as much as possible. Where do you live on the Cote d’azur?

  2. Tonya – love your approach to life and your most recent blog post. Can you elaborate on #23. – Modern day conveniences are not always convenient in the long-term. I’m not sure what you meant. thanks

    • Thanks Candi! And, of course. What I was referring to are things like fast food, remote controls, computers, microwaves, etc. Those things that may save us time now, but cost us in the future! Or things that may help us connect virtually but take time from our real life relationships. Hope this helps!

  3. Love this list Tonya! There are a few I want to ease into my own life. This list is also a reminder of the things I have already changed in my life that make it more enjoyable

  4. 40 of the easiest things to incorporate in everyday life. Most of which I do without thinking. Most is just common sense. Some I will start doing and be more mindful of doing in my everyday life.

    Thank you for these tips to enjoy and savor and live by.

  5. This is the secret to the best life. Beautiful! Thank you for singing this song as so many have either never heard it, or have forgotten. xo

      • Tonya you were not wrong calling Paris “the city of lights “!.
        Meaning That the XVIIIth century its called in France :
        ” the enlightment century ” , in French ” le siècle des Lumieres”
        Paris is not only a city of tje light, romantic etc …its also the city where all révolutions and all intellectual ideas started (1789/1830/1848//1871) so yes Paris is also an intellectual city , you can call Paris , The city of lights !!!

        Edith…tour guide in Paris , born and raised ..in the city of lights !!!

        • Hi Edith,

          I’m so glad to have a true French femme in the community.

          I’ve seen it called both, using “Light” and “Lights.”

          Thank you for your insight.

          So appreciated!



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