When I picked up How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style and Bad Habits at my local library, I was looking to de-stress. The book also tied in nicely with my focus on everything Parisian in preparation for my much-anticipated trip to France. But never did I expect to find so much of myself within the pages of this hilarious, yet poignant, guide.
Despite being born and bred in Boston and, with the exception of two years as a student and actress in NYC, not having lived for a long period of time anywhere else, much of my attitude towards life is not very American. My family has somehow maintained our French ethnicity to the point where double cheek kiss greetings (faire le bise) and finishing our conversations with a hearty, Je t’aime! is the norm.
So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised to find myself relating to 99% of what authors Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas consider Parisian behavior. Then again, it could just be because I am a woman.
I was sitting next to my husband on the couch when I began reading the book and as soon I hit page four, I was laughing. It’s divided up into different subjects and this one happened to be titled, “The Parisienne as Seen by a Parisian Man.” And though neither my husband, nor I, qualify as Parisian, the scene spelled out in the three following pages appeared to have been torn from our lives.
A woman is asking her lover to define her, the Parisienne.
First off, he points out that the Parisienne is never satisfied and he proves it by saying he just called her gorgeous and for her it is never enough. Strike 1.
Then he says how she thinks she’s a role model and loves being asked what she thinks because she knows it all. She even starts a blog or writes a book focused on her life advice. Strike 2.
“The Parisienne is always late” . . . because she has important things to do. Strike 5.
“She wears her sunglasses, even when it rains.” Strike 11.
You get the idea.
I read the entirety of the section to my husband who sat their nodding, as if to check them off of his list of my attributes.
This feeling of déjà vous continued throughout the breeze of a read. I’ve posted just a few of my other favorite and relatable parts of the book below.
And a guide about how to be Parisian would be remiss without some fashion talk. I love me some black ballet flats and silk scarves!
Another focus of the book that struck me was the Parisian mother. As someone who is not too far off from starting a family, the idea of being a mother and being a woman has been on my mind. I feel in America women loose their identity as a woman as soon as they give birth or sign the adoption papers. Not so in France.
Reading this made me realize that in holding onto my identity as a woman, on top of being a mother, I would actually be a better mother to my future children. It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.
There are so many more great parts to this book along with some gorgeous pictures and tongue-in-cheek illustrations so I encourage you to pick it up next time you’re in the book store or roaming the shelves of your local library.
But don’t download it on your kindle or iPad . . . that wouldn’t be very Parisian of you, now would it?
This column was originally posted July 24, 2016.