A suite of lifestyle guides based on the lives of Parisians have been published over the years. On bookshop and library shelves you may have seen titles such as French Women Don’t Get Fat, French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, French Women for All Seasons, French Children Don’t Throw Food and the recently published, How To Be Parisian Wherever You are.
All the books aim to sell a certain idea of the Frenchwoman to we the less sophisticated foreigners. From start to finish, pages are filled with illustrations, photographs, lists, recipes, how-to’s and plenty of no-nonsense advice for improving your life by adopting Parisian ways and customs.
The latest offering, How to be Parisian Wherever You Are, is written by four accomplished French women, who have set out to explain “the art of beauty —the Parisian way.”
Their advice includes:
‘Smoke like a chimney on the way to the countryside to get some fresh air.’
‘Don’t feel guilty about infidelity.’
‘Cheat on your lover with your boyfriend.’
Still, you have to wonder – how many actual Parisians resemble these stereotypes in real life? UK Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman once lived in Paris and believes there is no such thing.
She recently wrote on this very topic: ‘…the funny thing is, in all my life of being related to Parisians, visiting Parisians and eating baguettes with Parisians on their scooters, I have never once come across a single woman who fits the stereotype peddled by these books. These idiotic guides present an image that is about as representative of Parisians as Four Weddings and a Funeral is of the average Brit.’
Whether or not real Parisian women truly fit the stereotypes by always looking chic, having lovers, eating baguettes and staying thin, the books are beautifully laid out, compact (most will fit in your handbag) and present stunning images of French life. They will certainly provide inspiration and give you a chuckle or two.