“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you
can only connect them looking backwards. So you
have to trust that the dots will somehow connect
in your future. You have to trust in something –
your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because
believing that the dots will connect down the road
will give you the confidence to follow your heart
even when it leads you off the well worn path;
and that will make all the difference.” – Steve Jobs
Reblog: Written by Hadley Freeman for the Guardian:
Real French women don’t resemble the stereotype peddled by endless guides to looking chic, having lovers, eating baguettes and staying thin
I’ve noticed that yet another book has come out telling us that we should all be more like Parisian women. To save me reading this book, can you tell me how to be more Parisian?
Pas de problème, mon petit chou-fleur! After French Women Don’t Get Fat, French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, French Children Don’t Throw Food, Like a French Woman and French Women Are Just Better Than You So Shut Up About the War Already Because They’re Thinner and Sexier and We All Know What’s Really Important So Nyahhh!, yet another crucial addition to this delightful genre arrives called How To Be Parisian Wherever You are.
I’m afraid I haven’t read the whole thing due to a severe allergy to books that are predicated on national stereotypes so tired they would make the producers of ’Allo ’Allo! balk, but I did read an extract (hard-working journalist, me), and I can tell you, this book looks pretty spectacular. It was written, we are told, by “four stunning and accomplished French women … [who are] talented bohemian iconoclasts”. Coo! Stunning andiconoclastic? That is so Frrrrench, n’est-ce pas? So let’s see how this “iconoclastic” book shatters some French stereotypes. Well, we are told that French women “take their scooter to buy a baguette”. Take their scooter to buy a baguette? I’m sorry, is this a book about how to be French or a GCSE Tricolore text book? What next, “Monsieur Dupont habite à la Rochelle et il aime aller a la piscine”? Anyway, carry on. What else do we clueless non-Frenchies have to do to be more like French women, please?
“Smoke like a chimney on the way to the countryside to get some fresh air.”
“Don’t feel guilty [about infidelity].”
“Cheat on your lover with your boyfriend.”
Wow, this book really blows the lid on French stereotypes, doesn’t it? Totally doesn’t rehash them at all. Mon Dieu! Ooh la la! Nicole Papa! Du vin, du pain, du Boursin!
Admittedly, I am not Parisian. However, half my family is, I lived in Paris for a while after university “studying very hard” (dossing about with my cousins) and my parents still live there, so I have some experience of the place. But the funny thing is, in all my life of being related to Parisians, visiting Parisians and eating baguettes with Parisians on their scooters, I have never once come across a single woman who fits the stereotype peddled by these books. These idiotic guides present an image that is about as representative of Parisians as Four Weddings and a Funeral is of the average Brit. Are there skinny, scary women in Paris who have lots of lovers and always look fabulous? Yes, probably, and I’m guessing they all live in the same tiny square mile off the Boulevard Saint-Germain. But I have never come across any of them, and I used to cover Paris fashion week. It is perhaps the greatest trick France has ever pulled, constantly telling the world how innately chic its people are, while actually not being especially different from any other country. After all, there are rich, skinny, scary women in all major cities. But it is only Paris where we’re led to believe that this tiny demographic is representative of the entire populace.
Seriously, who buys these books? Have they never seen a French person? Do they just forget that their French GCSE teacher didn’t look and dress like Catherine Deneuve? Or are they so filled with self-loathing that they’re willing to cling on to whatever ridiculous lie is peddled by the publishing industry as long as it comes with a promise of self-improvement? Je ne sais pas, c’est très bizarre (see? This “being French” lark is un morceau de gâteau.) We all know that national stereotypes exist, but whoever would have thought that an entire publishing genre could be built upon them? But I appreciate that the publishing industry is struggling, so to help them on their way, here are some other titles that might be worth pursuing:
1. How to Get the Best Sunlounger Round the Hotel Pool Like a German.
2. How to Say ‘I’m WAWKIN’ here, I’m WAWKIN’!’ Like a New Yorker.
3. How to Throw a Shrimp on the Barbie like an Australian.
I’m going to stop now because each of these ideas is gold and I can’t just give them away, you know. The point is, there is nothing inherently chic about Parisians – they just happen to speak French, which is a very chic-sounding language, and they live in a stonkingly beautiful city (which they only saved by being cheese-eating surrender monkeys to the Nazis – I wonder if any of these “How to be Parisian” guides give any tips about how to acquiesce most stylishly to invading fascists? Yeah. I went there.) But as there seems to be some sort of appetite for this nonsense, here – EXCLUSIVELY!!!! – is my guide to being Parisian:
Move to Paris.
Au revoir, mes petits! Je vous embrasse, ooh la la!
With train and hotel reservations already confirmed, I had been watching the forecast for weeks before this picnic-in-the-garden, en costume of the 17th/18th centuries event, as it is held outdoors and can be cancelled up to the day before – the event had reportedly been postponed twice the year before due to inclement weather. The forecast for THE day called for rain, then cloudy, then sun, then light rain, then cloudy, and so on. Quelle chance! It turned out to be a warm, mostly sunny day, and I even avoided getting sunburned by having a parasol (vs. an umbrella) in hand.
A lot of visitors and families with children rented costumes from the on-site vendor, Autour d’un Soir, located in Cannes and from whom we had previously reserved ours. There were attendees who had uniquely hand-made their costume – an amazing site to take in all the colors, luscious fabrics, and designs. We enjoyed riding in une caleche (horsedrawn carriage), watching a baroque dance presentation, and our eating our petit pique-nique in the garden. Photos were being taken in paparazzi fashion, as costumed participants strolled through the château gardens – a luxurious day to be swept back in time – through the surroundings, the baroque ambiance, and royal pomp & circumstance! (video below)
Nice’s train statio’s renovation has begun, having eliminated the traffic and parking congestion, and now has a large open space in place, giving it a cleaner/sleeker look. Bravo to Mayor Estrosi!
Arriving at the Gare de Lyon in Paris in time for a late lunch, I noticed the train announcement board is now modernized/digital – a sign of the times, I suppose (pardon the pun!) I missed hearing the sound of the flip-style announcement board, so, I decided to “go back in time” and eat at the famous brasserie, Le Train Bleu, with its ornate decoration, luxurious ambiance, and fine dining.
View from restaurant onto the train station
Une coupe de champagne to celebrate our arrival, not to mention being à propos to our surroundings, was de rigeur! As expected, the service was excellent and elegant, as well as a vestiare for luggage. There was a three-course menu (entrée, plat, dessert) that included wine, so I decided to splurge. I also noted that they offer a vegetarian choice: une assiette de legumes, priced at 18 Euros on the à la carte menu.
I ordered the “Royale de fois gras,” followed by the “Paleron de boeuf” and dessert as “La suggestion du pâtissier” with a glass of crisp, white wine.
I couldn’t manage to finish my dessert, even with knowing I would work it off by lugging luggage up and down steps in the Metro.
Years of dreaming, working hard, navigating life’s potholes, and some fortuitous events – the protagonist finds herself all alone in the “City of Light.”
Little does she know that it is just the beginning of her symbolic yellow-brick road, leading her on a life journey full of love, sweat, & tears. See Read if her dream leads to finding her own “Land of Oz.”
The word “poubelle” (meaning trash can) comes from the man who invented it – Eugne Poubelle. He was a bourgeois lawyer, administrator and diplomat from Caen who was the “préfet” of the Seine region of France devoted to introducing methods of hygiene at the end of the 19th century. On March 7, 1884, Mr. Poubelle decreed that owners of buildings must provide three covered containers up to 120 liters to hold household garbage, sorted into perishable items, paper and cloth, crockery and shells. There was resistance at first, due to the expense and the threat to the rag-pickers (“chiffoniers”). By 1890, “poubelle” had become a noun in the Universal Dictionary of the 19th century and “le monsieur” became a household word. (Source/credit: ParlerParis)
In Paris, the street sweepers wear green uniforms, but on La Côte d’AZUR (the blue coast), fashion here dictates a combination of green and blue, bien sûr. I’m always amused at the old-fashioned brooms, which can also be made of green nylon (color coordination), but after observation, they really seem to work well for gathering all the bits and pieces of street trash and leaves.
What do street cleaners/sweepers wear where you live?
One of my favorite restaurants in Paris is Le Grand Colbert well-known for its lively, brasserie ambiance and great food, not to mention their decadently-delicious and authentic hot chocolate – although I didn’t even have room for dessert!
Also known for its scene setting in the movie “Something’s Gotta Give (video below),” this restaurant has an impressive address in the first arrondissement near the Palais Royal. It is a special place for special occasions, and maybe Jack Nicholson will show up!
It was only a day trip into the City of Light, since I was staying in the town of Versailles. But, no matter how many times I have visited Paris, and actually lived there a short while, I am always mesmerized by its ambiance and historical beauty.
There happened to be a choir singing in Notre Dame Cathedral, which added to its splendor and glory.
Photo Gallery – And since a photo is worth a thousand words……
Do you know the name of the smallest street in Paris?
Of course, one can learn a language at any age, although it has been proven easier to do before the age of 13, due to the brain’s stages of development.
I went back to university as an adult to earn a B.A. in French – a “fait accompli” in three years time; the focus was mostly on learning to read and write French. Bien sûr, there were the required grammar classes and a lot of literature classes, but surprisingly not many French conversation classes. So, learning was how to speak textbook French, which is not always what’s truly spoken. Afterwards, when I lived and worked in Paris, this all became amusingly quite evident (read about it in “Solitary Desire – One Woman’s Journey to France” – available on Amazon)!
Spoken French is like spoken English, where words are slurred together, spoken quickly, and includes slang. I have a good friend who takes lessons via skype with French Today (click on the image icon on the left sidebar on my blog for direct access) to improve her speaking ability, and she highly recommends the company. They also have a variety of listening programs & lessons in communicating in modern day French.
What a great idea, as well, to give as a gift to a Francophile friend! Let’s speak French (Parlons français) and oui, let’s speak French Today!
The vibrant colors, rich textures, and varied styles of costumes were stunningly beautiful and a sight to behold! Some of the attendees were ‘pros’ at these kind of events and had even made their own dresses and menswear !
So, that got me thinking, although I haven’t sewn in a very long time, maybe I could make a gown for myself. I would have to use a borrowed sewing machine, and I’m not sure I can really do this, but if so, what color brocade fabric would you suggest ?