I remember in high school on of my friends from class told me, “You look like you belong in Europe.” I don’t remember what we were talking about or why she thought that. I had big dreams of moving to Europe at the time, so I took it as a compliment.
I still daydream about living in Europe. Sometimes I want that effortless French girl style and a Tuscan fixer-upper farmhouse even though I know it’s all overly idealized and stereotyped.
So when I spotted How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style and Bad Habits while milling around a bookstore, I knew I had to read it but I was wary. The book is written by four Parisienne friends: Anne Berest - a writer, Audrey Diwan - a scriptwriter and magazine editor, Caroline de Maigret- a model, Chanel ambassador, and music label founder, and Sophie Mas - a film producer. (video link for email subscribers)
They cover a lot of ground--from style to favourite breakfast spots--using photos, vignettes, quotes, recipes, and more. They start with a list of aphorisms like: “If you only own one sweater, make sure it’s cashmere.” Ok, I can get on board with that. S, who was sneakily reading over my shoulder, tapped one further down: “Take a deep breath and keep it simple.” He then gave me a look that said, “Yeah, you could learn some things from this.” Hmph!
As it turns out, he was right. The book is funny, irreverent, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It's not for everyone, but if you like this video, you'll probably like the book.
It’s also full of good-hearted advice on living well. I chose a few favourites to share.
On Natural Beauty
On How to Spend a Parisian Weekend
On Taking Time
I enjoyed this book in small doses. I found it best to flip through until something caught my eye. It’s not a book that needs to be (or should be, in my opinion) read from cover to cover. It's the kind of book I would keep on my shelf and pull down to rediscover from time to time.
What I really liked is that the Parisienne in this book is not perfect. She’s has her faults and bad habits. Her lifestyle isn’t really as effortless as we want to think (or have been led to think, perhaps). She is, however, confident. Living life well, fully, and freely is important to her. I don’t think that attitude is singularly Parisian, but I think they do a damn good job of it and How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are is a fun way to tap into it.