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For when France seems too far away. Shop for inspiring images of France and discover travel tips, packing advice, recipes, book reviews and more.

How To Be Parisian – Part Two

How to be Parisian

While we were in Paris, we were lucky enough to spend an unforgettable day with three amazingly creative, beautiful and intelligent women – all of whom actually live in Paris.

Now, we all know just how fabled French women, and particularly Parisian women, are. Entire libraries have been written on ‘how to be Parisian’ or why French women do (or don’t do) all sorts of things.

It’s not often that you get the opportunity to find out about French women from women living in Paris, so I made sure that I made the most of it! It was a pleasure to spend time with them as I tried to sort the fact from the fiction, particularly when it comes to beauty and style related matters.

Here’s what I learned…

  1. While you don’t need a lot of make up, it is a fact that you need a great haircut! It doesn’t matter if hair is long or short…as long as it suits you and the cut is excellent.
  2. Hair should have movement – and not be styled to within an inch of its life.
  3. Shiny hair is considered a good thing.
  4. French women really don’t put liquid foundation all over their faces. It is only applied the parts of your face that need evening out. I’ve read about this one in magazines but have never met anyone who actually does it – including make up artists. (From a personal point of view, I don’t think my blending skills are good enough to try this one at home.)
  5. As a result, great skin is as important as you’ve read in every ‘how to be like a French woman’ book.
  6. Good eyebrows are a necessity. The thicker the better apparently.
  7. Parisian women don’t really dress up – which is kind of confusing for visitors to the city who are under the assumption that everyone will be dressed to the nines because Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world.
  8. There is however, a universal fashion uniform. Flat shoes, skinny jeans, high quality t-shirt, thin cashmere jumper, jacket, scarf and a good handbag. Et voila – you are good to go.
  9. Flat shoes can be whatever takes your fancy. You see boots, ballet flats, sandals and running shoes everywhere. This is despite the fact that you continually read that, other than Converse sneakers, French women don’t wear running shoes. Not true – I’ve now had it confirmed that they certainly do. I have to point out that they are cool running shoes though – nothing overly large or overly white.
  10. Heels aren’t worn as much as you might think from what you read. While you do see some heels – often combined with a suit – heels are usually only worn from the car to the restaurant or for very special occasions. This one doesn’t particularly surprise me…the cobblestones are a nightmare if you are in heels.
  11. Fine jewellery is still in fashion in France.
  12. Finally, and not beauty or style related at all but I thought it might be handy for you to know…they all agreed that you should catch the bus while you are in Paris. Buses are slower than the Metro, but you will see so much more! If you do take the Metro, watch your valuables (I was onto this one already!).

It was absolutely fascinating to discuss all the things you read about In books and in the media, and to get a feel for what women living with the label of Parisian actually think and do. Interestingly, it seems that many of the things you read are true. But it also seems that lots aren’t as well…which is probably always going to the case when you generalise so broadly about something as individual as style.

A big thank you to my three lovely Parisians for being so generous with their time and their thoughts.

Until next time – au revoir.



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