Monday, December 10, 2012

Live like a French person everyday

This is a little story about why you shouldn't drink takeaway coffee and other daily habits we can abandon, others still we can adopt to live a more mindful and elegant existence.

When I was a child, eating while we were out and about on the move just didn't happen. If you wanted something to eat, or drink for that matter, you sat at a table. Fast forward some years I was pulling into Seattle on an early morning bus on my first trip to America. A first glimpse of Seatillites had me feeling like I'd just landed on a dehydrated Mars. Lining the streets were people walking, waiting for buses, and in cars slurping from enormous bucket-sized cups of coffee. It was totally bizarre and had me wondering what great stress these people were under to not have time to drink their coffee with their breakfast before they left home.

Now fast forward again another few years to my first trip to France. I love this country, I loved it long before I visited it and I still love it 15 years later. But what struck on this initial trip after having lived in North America for a couple of years was the sheer lack of take-away coffee houses. When people wanted a coffee they would go into a cafe and either sit down and savour a creamy cafe au lait or, if in a hurry, they'd stand at the bar and whip down a bitter brew from a tiny ceramic cup. But they would not, I repeat would not, run away down the street with it and let it get cold before drinking it at their desk. Still now in Paris take away coffee is fairly rare.

So where am going with this coffee rant? Well, despite my reluctance to admit this to my French friends, I think that this gaelic nation in many aspects of living has got it just right. Their pace is comfortable, the aesthetic is right on. They live an elegant life without it being overdone.

I've been thinking for a while about how I can inject a bit more French into my own life rather than just while I'm staying in their country. After some pondering I've come up with my ten tips on how to live more like a French person everyday.

one  //  Drink your coffee (or in my case tea) in a cafe or at home at the table. In a real cup. Not walking down the street.

two  //  Put some effort in what you wear. Have high quality basics in your wardrobe that you feel good in. Learn how to accessorise. Know what looks good on you and flaunt your assets, elegantly.

three  //  Never eat at your desk. Its impossible to be mindful of what you're chomping on while infront of a computer screen. It's a bad habit and besides, crumbs and leftover spaghetti sauce are hard to get out of the crevices in your keyboard.

four  //  Get outside and breathe some fresh air every day. Go for a walk in the park, ride your bike. Step away from your screen and get some air through your lungs.

five  //  Eat only fresh, seasonal foods. Don't eat junk. Eat simply when at home, make a proper meal even if its only for you. A tin of tuna does not constitute a meal.

six  //  Indulge yourself sometimes, and savour it. Buy a single exquisite chocolate, the best you can afford and eat it slowly, rather than demolishing a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk. Get the occasional manicure. Buy an Italian Vogue. Whatever floats your boat do it, not every day, not even every week, but every so often. A little decadence goes a long way.

seven  //  Buy fresh flowers weekly or pick them from your garden, and display them in the rooms you live in the most. Even a simple bunch of inexpensive daffodils or daisies can make a house more bright and homely. Why? Because you're worth it.

eight  //  When at home, dress as if someone might appear at your door at anytime. Comfortably, yet with some elegance. One day a friend and I spontaneously dropped in on the lovely Mme Bénazet of Toulouse. At over 80 she was a picture of simple style in some comfortable wool trousers, a fine knit jumper and her silk and wool 'house scarf' to keep the chill from her neck. Gorgeous.

nine  //  Adopt a five-minute bedtime beauty routine. Clean off your makeup with a cream cleanser, apply a night cream and eye cream, brush your teeth and your hair. Maybe even rub a little lavender oil on your temples. You'll feel pampered and calm, ready for sleep.

ten  //  Enjoy small rituals in your day, month, week and year. Whether it be 4pm goûter, Sunday lunch with family, or a monthly ’knife-and-fork’ lunch with friends. These rituals mark the cycles of time and make it feel less like life is running away from us.

So there you have it, the tips I have learned from the French on how to add a bit je ne sais quoi to your everyday life.

I'd love to hear about your experience of these. Do you have tips of your own?

Girl & geese c/o o-check graphics


  1. When in France, and the sun is out, go to a local shop and buy a baguette au jambon. No lettuce, no tomato, no cheese. Just simple bread, butter and ham. Go to a park and enjoy the sun and the baguette. koen

  2. I LOVE this post of yours. It's so true. I'm bookmarking it to read over tomorrow morning and to start implementing :)
    Elizabeth //

    1. Elizabeth I'd love to hear how you get on. I'm regularly a failed French wannabe, however I do love to remind myself that you can choose to have deliciousness, indulgence and self-care in our lives.

  3. Hello, Karina ~

    This is an "Oh là là" post that really captures much of the essence of French living!

    May I add, both for women and men, that you always wear a scent. For maximum impact,it ought to be a perfume or cologne you have chosen to represent you. This is necessary for the individuality you wish to convey.
    Buy the most extraordinary scent you can that fits you--it need not be expensive, but it does need to delight you every time you put it on. When it ceases to do this, it's time to change the scent--or simply dab a little pure vanilla or lavender on your wrists & behind your ears to give yourself a few days of rest from your usual scent.


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