Books, Life, Reading, Review
Comments 4

Book Review – ‘How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are’

How to be Parisian wherever you areTitle: How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are
Author: Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas
Genre: Non-fiction
Release Date: October 1, 2014
Rating: ★★★★
“How to Be Parisian brilliantly deconstructs the French woman’s views on culture, fashion and attitude. Unlike other books on French style, this illustrated handbook is full of wit and self-deprecating humour. Authors – Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret and Sophie Mas – are bohemian free-thinkers and iconoclasts, and they are not afraid to cut through some of the myths. They say what you don’t expect to hear, just the way you want to hear it. They are not against smoking in bed, and all for art, politics and culture, making everything look easy, and going against the grain.
Including 80 black and white and colour pictures, many taken by the authors, How to Be Parisian explains those confusing subjects of clothes, makeup, men, culture and lifestyle as only a true Parisienne can.” (randomhouse.com.au)

I received this as a birthday gift from my sister. It was a really nice surprise as it wasn’t something I’d specifically asked for, but I had pinned the book on Pinterest ages and ages ago as something to read because I love just about anything to do with France, and also because French women seriously seem like they just roll out of bed with cigarette in mouth and get. shit. done. (Pardon my French) As someone who likes to put in the least amount of effort possible when getting ready in the morning, this lifestyle really appeals to me (except for the smoking part – my lungs just aren’t made for that).

Unfortunately for me, the impression I get from How To Be A Parisian Wherever You Are is that a lot of effort goes into seeming effortless; and there appears to be a whole bunch of things you need to do. Such as:

  • Having a very specific wardrobe and accessories;
  • Taking care of yourself without making it look like you actually take care of yourself; and
  • Being able to host the perfect dinner party with the right food and the right conversation.

Despite all this apparent effort, I still loved reading this little book and I’d be lying if I said I won’t pick it up and flick through it again. It’s just a cool read. The illustrations and photographs throughout were lovely to look at, and the writing was entertaining – a lot of it appealed to the sarcastic side of me, and I did laugh a few times. As birthday presents go, I definitely hit the jackpot with this one.

And although for the most part it appears I would be a failure as a Parisian, I did take note of a couple of things that will make my life both easier and better. Like:

  • Apparently the only makeup Parisian women wear is moisturiser and mascara. So I decided to give it a crack, despite the fact that I am so fair skinned I need to wear makeup so that I look more alive and less corpse. I looked pretty haggard for the first few days, but it wasn’t long until I had that natural glow that can only come from getting an extra 10 minutes in bed in the morning. I’ve never been that big on makeup anyway, and I’m terrible with moisturising. So it seemed like a win/win.
  • I also made crepes using a recipe in the book. I’ve never made crepes before, so that was exciting. It took a few attempts before I was able to get it right, including flipping them in the pan. But I am now the self anointed Queen of Crepes. I filled it with a Nutella/strawberry jam mixture that was sprinkled with roughly chopped walnuts. Here’s a picture:

IMG_0802

I’ll wrap things up with some of my favourite quotes from the book, which I think sum it up perfectly, and are words to live by – regardless of whether you are Parisian or not.

A daily aphorism:

Be your own knight in shining armour.

On the gifting of a signature item to oneself:

It is a symbol of independence and freedom, which states, “I bought this for myself. I earned it and it makes me happy.”

On being the best version of yourself:

Better to look your age than no age at all.

And this quote is perfection:

“When you work to please others you can’t succeed, but the things you do to satisfy yourself stand a chance of catching someone’s interest.” —Marcel Proust, Pastiches et Mélanges

Advertisements

4 Comments

  1. Hi, by the way, I was born in Paris to Parisian parents, grandparents etc….I love your review on “How to be Parisien wherever you are ”
    I have not read the book myself. From your review, which is excellent, I can professe that yes this is the way we are. I came to live in the US with my husband, and out of the window went much of my Parisien ways…( for a little while ) I was buying much to many clothes and shoes…I am trying to rearrange my closet, the basics, some things to add a ” je ne sais quoi”, 1 pair of neutral boots, 2 flats, dressy & casual, same for heels. Basically we buy quality and classic styles, then dress them up.
    It is so much easier to get dressed.
    French women do not get plastic surgery, no cutting up our faces, we deal with the face we have since we are young, by the time we hit our 40 and 50 we like the way we look, it is psychological. Men in France, Paris love older women.
    I noticed the younger generation is starting with plastic surgery, mostly to resemble soap and American movie actresses. In my opinion it is a huge mistake, learning to like one’s face as time passes makes for a happier woman….and it shows.

    Your blog rocks and so do you, Heather 🙂

    Nice crepe….yumy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sylvie! Thanks for reading my review – it’s lovely to get a positive opinion on it from a Frenchwoman! I really need to cull my clothes. I have so many and only regularly wear about a quarter of them – I’m always wearing a combination of the same few things. Same with my shoes.
      I was in Paris a couple of weeks ago (so lovely!) and I did notice that the fashion was pretty basic but looked amazing. I mean, really, how many items of clothing does one person really need? I agree that it’s best to just have a few things and mix them up. It would make life so much easier in the mornings.

      And I have to say that I love my new no makeup regimen. My skin is so much nicer now that my pores aren’t getting clogged with makeup. I’ve never really worn a lot anyway – for some reason I didn’t get into it in my teenage years, I think maybe because I’ve always had good skin and not needed much – but it’s been nice to leave the house in the morning and know that what the world is getting is my own face, whether they like it or not!

      Thanks again for reading 🙂

      Like

  2. Oh, this sounds like a darling little book. And I will vouch for you as queen of crepes, because that crepe looks AMAZING. There used to be a little crepe bistro in the student union at my college, and they did “Happy Hour” dollar crepes that were to die for. I was the saddest when they replaced it with a Subway. 😦

    Anyway, glad you had so much fun with this one! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never been a big eater of crepes, they’re not really top of my list of things to eat when I’m out and about. But my mind has definitely been changed. I think it’s great that they can be sweet or savoury depending on the filling. So versatile!
      Also, who needs another Subway? They’re basically everywhere. I’d have been disappointed as well.

      Like

Write Your Thoughts Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s