Monday, 19 January 2015

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are



I saw this book around and about a bit on a few blogs last year. Naturally as soon as I saw it in a shop I snatched it from the shelf and brought it home. I didn't even open it in the shop, I just paid for it and brought it home. I assumed I'd love it. After all, it's perfect for me, right? Sadly not. I bought it before I set off to Paris in October. I got about half way through and then moved on to other things while I was away. I got back to finishing it recently.

The thing is I really don't know how to take it. The back cover blurb proclaims it "Very, very funny". Inside the dust jacket it's a "fun and spirited take on what it really means to be a Parisienne in the 21st Century". Well that may be, but I still don't understand it. First gripe, why not call the book How to be Parisienne? This is indeed what it is about.

It is also "often contradictory". Perhaps a book written by 4 people will always turn out as a bit of a melange?

On the very first page of text. Aphorisms. To be read out loud every night before going to bed. Even when inebriated:

Find "your" perfume before you turn thirty. Wear it for the next thirty years.

Really? Don't change your perfume for 30 years? This is the best advice 4 stylish young Parisiennes can give me?

This can be the only plausible explanation for why
every French Pharmacie window
is full of 4711 and Yardley

Parisiennes it seems don't like to wear too much makeup (which is odd really, because where are all the big makeup houses?), to die their hair (unless it's to your natural colour, and to cover grey), hair clips are definitely a mistake if you are over 18, and they definitely don't like botox.
Sure, some women sometimes master the art of Botox, but most of the time, let's be honest: instead of a face free of wrinkles, what you really see is the face of fear. 

Clearly they think about skin more than I do- beauty is epidermal- and they may have a bathroom full of skin creams, but I do like this advice.
Enjoy the face you have today. It's the one you'll wish you have ten years from now. 

Disappointingly there is no list of the creams of wonderment considered essential in any Parisienne's bathroom cabinet. However, there is a nice selection of movies set in Paris for whenever we need a quick Paris pick me up.

And smoking. Really girls. Give up the fags if you're so worried about the epidermis.

I'm not sure how to this photo is meant,
but it just looks ugly
to poor old Anglophone me.

There are some parts I really like though. And I think our guides to la vie Parisienne, do best on matters of style and taste rather than when they take on life more generally.

Learning that YSL invented black.

There are several sections of recipes. I'm tempted by the Ile Flottante, but not so much by the pea and carrot soup made by jazzing up a tin of peas and carrots with wasabi.

The surprising collection of English words used in French, and French words used in English.

My favourite page gives the universal advice to take the time.

Take the time to talk to the elderly lady next door, to read a book, to walk to work instead of riding the subway when it's a beautiful day. Take the time to escape for a weekend with friends. 

Our authors tell us that asking someone at a party what they do for a living is a faux pas. I've read this before, a number of times. It seems odd, but I'm beginning to understand that it's a thing for the French. I wonder what they talk about instead?

And yes sometimes, I do get the humour.

The Parisienne lives by only one sound: that of her heels clicking on the pavement, it's the metronome of her days. 


The folks at Vogue were somewhat more gushing, while over at the Telegraph in London they had even more reservations than me.

I do see the humour in the video more. 
And I can get right behind #7
I always do that in Paris
I should do it wherever I am more

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog 

French Bingo 2015

6 comments:

Esme said...

I thought the book SUCKED. It was horrible and their advice was ridiculous. I would like to meet the editor who thought it was worth publishing.

PS we do not have any Portugese bakeries here at all.

Esme said...

I am glad you liked the look. I started changing things and could not go back. I have no idea how to get my sidebar back-I would like to do a few adjustments but this is not my strength.

Sim Carter said...

Well that sounds like a resounding DO NOT READ!
Yikes. Too bad because the cover is quite fetching.
For my Dreaming of France contribution I have a bit about Alain Delon (his blue eyes do NOT disappoint) and Plein Soleil, the French adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel.

Paulita said...

Louise, Thanks for saving me the trouble of reading it! I can see where you assessment is spot on for many of us. Maybe the four Parisiennes are famous, so no matter what they said, they would be published. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

MG said...

Don't change your perfume? Ever? Ah, the arrogance of the young!

Brona Joy said...

When the book first arrived at work I thought 'wahoo, Lousie will love this!

But then I started reading through it during my lunch breaks.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry!
Surely we weren't meant to take any of it seriously!