Honestly, being a Francophile has created a neurosis, of sort. I cringe when I see poor wine service (especially terrible glasses). My heart breaks when I hear women talking about their non-stop to-do lists or verbally ripping apart their own bodies. And, I cannot even explain how I feel when I see people parading around the concourse of the airport in sweats and eating on the go.
When it comes to style, elegance and joie de vivre, the French woman has a clear advantage, thanks to traditions and mindsets established way before you and I were even thought of. I personally enjoy their savoir-vivre, finding it very refreshing to see feminine women who value the quality of life over quantity.
Unleashing your inner Frenchie may be exactly what you need to add more joie de vivre to your life.
Be More Practical
When you think of a French woman, you probably have images of seduction, chic style and lots of pomp and circumstance. The truth is that our French sisters are very practical. Their closets are not full of clothes with the price tags still intact. They stick to a daily schedule (le planning) that gives them peace of mind. And, they have a daily regimen that adds order to their lives, which leads me to the next point.
Eat 3 Meals a Day
Tell a French woman that she needs to eat 6 small meals a day to keep her metabolism burning like a hot furnace, and she’ll look at you like you just told her that bread is bad. In a land where the majority of people are slim, there is a tradition of enjoying 3 meals a day with absolute pleasure. And le snacking? Absolutement pas! Unless it’s around 4 PM when a little le gouter is in order (but, afternoon snacks are usually reserved for children to keep them satisfied until dinner).
Remember the acclaimed film, Amélie? In one scene, she cracks the top of her crème brûlée with overwhelming joy, illustrating the French woman’s sensual relationship with life itself. While many women are too busy to notice the simple pleasures of life, the French woman realizes that the best stuff in life can be found in the moment – taking a deep inhale of her wine, gliding her fingers over silk, the feel of chocolate melting on her tongue. She glides into a room, sips wine like it’s precious and takes her time in performing daily tasks. She is charmed by everyday life, which makes her most charming.
My French friend, Colette, asked me, “Are all you American women like those I see on reality TV?” She had been watching an episode of Real Housewives, and I was mortified that she thought most American women are engaged in screaming matches and excess drama. The majority of American women are not like what we see on TV (thank God!). Yet, we I don’t believe that to be true. Yet, I do think that we could learn the art of calm from the French femme. When I observe how a French woman handles everything from a traffic jam to discovering her husband is having an affair, I’m impressed with her calm, grounded approach to life’s stressful situations.
There are no “most popular” contests in France. And, French women aren’t raised to like or be liked, giving them permission to be who they are. In the US, on the other hand, women are transforming themselves at dizzying speeds, trying to fit in, wanting to be ‘the good girl.’ The French femme knows who she is and does not stress herself with trying to be someone else. You won’t find her taking online personality tests or trying to justify her existence. She has a different focus: to cultivate herself and create joie de vivre in her present situation. And as for self-deprecation? You’ll never hear a French woman cursing her cellulite or talking about her latest diet. Instead, she secretly heads to the la pharmacie to secretly purchase the new lotion that promises to smooth her dimples or makes petit adjustments in her diet.
Work to Live
I asked my French friend, Catherine, what she valued most in life. She quickly responded, “time.” As an attorney, her job is stressful and workload, heavy. Yet, she said, “I’ll never spend my lunch break catching up on work or skipping a vacation because I think I don’t have the time. The work will always be there. It will never be done. But, my life? It’s made of the simple pleasure. I refuse to ever be too busy that I miss them.” Simply put, become more concerned with creating a life than making a living <TWEET IT>!
Attend to Appearance
The French woman is never too busy to take a little extra time to present her best self to the world. It’s not a complicated style, but simple and elegant with her own unique flair. Because she enjoys pleasure and the art of seduction, she spends time making sure she’s always prepared for her destiny. It’s her self-expression, a sign of her self-worth and, for the French femme, fashion is fun!
Live in the Mystery
In Debra Oliver’s book, Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, she writes:
Where we grow up picking flowers and pondering love with “He loves me, he loves me not,” the French grow up with this refrain: “He love me a little. A lot. Passionately. Madly. Not at all.” How unfair. We think in terms of total love or absolute rejection. They think in degrees of passion and possibility.
If an American woman loves anything, it’s absolute certainty, Will he call me back? Could this be my husband? Are my kids going to go to college? The lists of thoughts that can bring on neurosis is on-going. The French woman knows that life is a mystery and nothing is guaranteed, letting her off the hook of trying to control everything and simply appreciate the pleasure of the present moment.
So, what do you think? Want to unleash your inner Frenchie? Share your thoughts in the comments below.