Today I’m diving into the French culture and sharing nine ways you can unearth your inner Francophile. I always find it fascinating how many people from around the world self-identify themselves as Francophiles. While some of you listening know without question, like myself, that you have a strong fondness for the French way of life, I’d like to share some attributes of the French culture that can improve the quality of your everyday routines and overall contentment and perhaps unearth any of those unknown Francophile leanings that you have and tap into them.
The history of the Francophile is known to have taken root during the Enlightenment period during and after the French Revolution. Francophiles were strong advocates for democracies rather than autocratic regimes which were prevalent in Europe during the 17th and 18th century. And as the ideology of Enlightenment prefers reason over tradition, it’s understandable that as the populous gained wider access to education, many also began to appreciate the “ways of life” the French culture embodied.
As many of you already know, I am regularly seeking ways to live a full life without the excess, as well as endlessly seeking answers to life’s infinite questions. So when I was first introduced to the French culture as a young college student studying abroad, I was mesmerized and returned home forever changed.
After all, the underlying foundation of TSLL blog derives itself from my appreciation of how the French go about their everyday lives. (View more Francophile themed posts here.) Beginning with my study abroad during my junior year (2000) in Angers, France, and continuing with my recent trips in 2012 and 2013, with each visit my understanding grows and even while my rose-colored glasses begin to fade, I continue to be fascinated and ever more curious about the French way of life.
1. Understand the Paradox that is the French Culture
While the traditional term French Paradox came about due to a study released in the late 80s/early 90s regarding cardiovascular disease in Americans and the British versus that of the French, there are many ways of living that appear to be a paradox (two seemingly contradictory ideas that none the less reveal a truth). While it may seem that the French eat more decadently and don’t look worse for wear, it is what and how much they are eating that is the essential element to producing the result that at first seems so perplexing. Ultimately, the golden rule that the French appear to abide by is that less is more and quality over quantity in all things.
If one is eating quality food, one is going to be satiated with less of it. If one consumes less stuff for their homes, their closets, you name it, their overall stress is decreased because they don’t have to tend to it constantly, and so long as they purchased quality items, these items will last.
~French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano
2. Welcome Everyday Pleasures
Whether you pick up a bouquet of flowers on your way home from work or on Sunday to kick off the week, make a hot cup of chocolat chaud on Thursday or any day when you just want to sit and savor, or reserve a night at the luxury hotel to spend with your beloved to change up your routine, make your everyday routine something that is sprinkled with moments to look forward to. An everyday, week or seasonal pleasure should not be something we feel guilty about. While we may have to save up in order to stay within our budget, such treats are part of a way of restoring you, reviving you and reminding you what the life you chose is all about.
3. Enjoy Eating Real Food in Moderation
Similar to incorporating everyday pleasures into your routine, eating well – eating real food – should be something you do at each meal without feeling guilty. Why? When quality, real food that is in season preferably is enjoyed, our appetites are satiated more completely and we no longer need that second helping. Food is meant not only to energize us, but to give us an opportunity to slow down and appreciate what we are eating. And so while you may be enjoying delicious food, the key is moderation and a well-balanced diet.
Have a look at the findings in response to the idea of The French Paradox and cardiovascular disease in the link below:
~American Society for Nutrition, “What it Really the Red Wine?”
4. Revel in Your True Beauty
Each one of us has something unique about us. And while it can take time to become comfortable with who we are and how we look, discarding our uniqueness would be a big mistake. As mentioned in the new book How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, the key is too look naturally beautiful. And the only way to truly do that is to know and accept your true beauty. It doesn’t mean you have to walk out the door without any make-up on (unless you want to), but it does mean using just enough make-up to accentuate and complement the natural beauty that you exude.
5. Get Drunk on Knowledge
Whether it’s art, literature, music, architecture, history – anything where you are acquiring new-found knowledge of the world – dive in and do so regularly. Visit a new exhibit at a favorite museum, attend local plays or enjoy a play while on your travels, simply choose to travel regularly, read something engaging every single night, throw yourself into a piece of literature that you have heard referenced but haven’t read just yet – anything that piques your curiosity. Maybe you are exhausted and don’t have the energy to read – turn on some music – Bach, Miles Davis – something that comforts and/or enlightens you. (Click here for my favorite music selections.)
One of the phrases that was shared in How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are that immediately caught my attention was “Choose to become intellectually wealthy.” No matter what your income, you can soak up knowledge everywhere, even more so with the advantage of the internet (just be sure to check your sources). You can even enroll in college courses for free from elite colleges from around the country at websites like Coursera. If you have the time, why not?
A handful of periodicals and newspapers I recommend:
6. Create Everyday Simple Habits
When you create simple everyday habits, they allow you to live a more productive and enjoyable life. How? By establishing certain habits, you are living consciously. You are fully aware of what your priorities are, combining them if you can to save time and be more efficient and editing out entirely those that don’t align with what you wish to accomplish or nurture.
7. Let Go of the Pursuit of Perfection
“Despite all of these [beauty] routines, the Parisian retains her little imperfections – cherishes them even. The gap in her smile, her slightly crooked tooth, her prominent eyebrow or strong nose. These are signs of a certain strength in character that allow her to feel beautiful without being perfect.”
What I love about the quote is that it is about owning our humanness. We are human after all, and therefore, we are not perfect. So why try being something we can never be? In owning our humanness and not apologizing for it, letting go of mistakes and supposed flaws, we actually unburden ourselves. Unnecessary stress and anxiety no longer deplete our energy and we can focus on what truly deserves and requires our attention – living our best life and tapping into our full potential.
8. Cultivate an Air of Mystery
Create an air of mystery, don’t reveal all. While social media perhaps has made this a difficult task, we are the gatekeepers of the information we release, and when we keep some things to ourselves, we build a reserve of inner strength that we can carry with us wherever we go. After all, the person who reveals everything tends to exude an air of desperation, a desire to be accepted, but if you are only revealing just enough, you are saying “I don’t need your approval, but I do enjoy talking with you. Perhaps we’ll do again sometime.”
9. Buy, Wear & Love Navy
Whether in a classic nautical top or a luxurious solid cashmere sweater, navy is a color for all seasons, a color that is complementary with nearly every skin tone. It is the color of the ever popular men’s day suit. It is timeless and can be paired with just about anything – even black. Thank you Yves Saint Laurent.
10. Quality over Quantity
Whether it is the clothing you wear, how much you share or what type of food you eat, the idea of preferring quality carries over into every arena of our lives and our lives are better off for it. While investing in quality clothes and food means we will have to watch our pennies, it simply serves as another reminder that less really is more.
“The Parisian never gives too much away. When it comes to revealing herself she follows one golden rule: less is definitely more.”
More importantly, in the goals we seek and in the priorities we focus on, when we focus on less, we can give more of our time and attention thereby allowing greater successful and intrinsic reward because were capable of giving our best selves.
As you can see, the premise of living simply luxuriously has many ties to the French way of living, but you don’t have to be French or even call yourself a Francophile to adopt any or all of these approaches.
~Have a question? Email me at email@example.com and your question may be answered in an future podcast.
Mousse au Chocolat from Buvette by Jody Williams
Buvette restaurant (New York City & Paris locations)
- 8 oz of semi-sweet chocolate, 60-70+% of cacao
- 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 4 egg whites
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- pinch of salt
- Combine chocolate and butter in a saucepan placed above a pot of simmering water (or use a double boiler). Stir until the butter and chocolate are one color. Remove from heat.
- Put the 3 yolks in a small bowl or ramekin and add a pinch of salt – mix quickly together. Set aside.
- Put egg whites (4) in a mixing bowl and using a hand mixer (or mix by hand with a whisk) mix together with 2 teaspoons of sugar (super fine if possible) until stiff peaks form (about 2-5 minutes).
- Add one yolk at a time to the chocolate. Mix in each yolk until it is mixed in entirely before adding the next egg yolk.
- Fold into the chocolate mixture the egg whites, combining just enough but not too much as you want to keep as much volume as possible.
- Refrigerate for at least four hours or up to two days before serving. You can either keep the chocolate mousse in the saucepan and cover with plastic wrap or distribute to small bowls from which dessert will be served.
- When serving, offer a small bowl of whipping cream (recipe below) for guests to add a dollop on top of their chocolate mousse.
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- Combine all three ingredients in a mixing bowl, and with a hand mixer, mix until stiff peaks form.
- Place in serving bowl with a serving spoon for guests to enjoy as they wish.
Enjoy a dense, yet also fluffy dessert. Pair with a lovely zinfandel or a hot cup of coffee or tea.
~FRANCOPHILE EPISODES from the ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Podcasts from the Archives You Might Enjoy:
- Episode #3 – 10 Essential Wardrobe Items
- Episode #2 – Master Your Money
- Episode #1 – The 8 Pillars of Creating a Simply Luxurious Life