How I’ve Been Hanging On To The ‘Frenchness’


Please tell me I’m not the only one in the world who has crashed back to reality after a luxuriously long stay in France?

Since we’ve been home, it’s safe to say things have been crazy! I managed to pick up a new role in my day job while we were away. So it goes without saying that I’ve been navigating all the things at work. We’ve also been busy helping our son move out of home for the very first time. It’s been an exciting and kind of confronting occurrence, which has also delivered us a bedroom to redecorate before the holiday season.

And I’ve been feeling slightly disappointed for Distant Francophile and my coaching side hustle. Why? Well, because although I have stacks of exciting ideas I want to put in play for both of them, the articles I want to share are substantial. And unfortunately, I just haven’t had the time I normally devote to creative pursuits. I’ve started some stuff, but I’ve not had the space I was hoping for to finish said stuff.

So when I was asked by a dear friend recently what steps I was taking to bring more ‘Frenchness’ and joie de vivre into my life now that we are home, my first answer was that I’d not given France even one single thought.

But, upon reflection, I realised that answer isn’t actually true at all. I’ve spent years learning how to manage my withdrawal symptoms after trips. The truth is, I have so many ways to bring France and ‘Frenchness’ into everyday life in my arsenal. And it seems that I’ve been employing them without even thinking about it.

Back To Reality – How I’ve Been Hanging On To The ‘Frenchness’

  1. Scotty and I hosted a little get together that had a French inspired menu. There was Champagne, French beans, Vichy Carrots, a cheese course and Catherine’s delicious French onion tart – amongst other French inspired bits and pieces.
  2. We’ve been using our French cutlery. One of the things I really want to share with you is the day trip we made to Thiers, where we made our own knives. Stay tuned for more.
  3. We purchased a conifer to enhance our front entrance. As we made our way across Provence, I was enchanted by the Pencil Pines that grace the landscape. Gazing out a train window one day, it occurred to me that we had the perfect place to house a piece of ‘Frenchness’ in the form of a tree. Fingers crossed, it will be very happy in its new space.
  4. I’ve refreshed just about cushion in the house with covers I bought either in France or ordered on-line, thanks to some French inspiration.
  5. While on the topic of home decor, we’ve dropped some French posters we picked up into our favourite framers. I think they are going to look perfect hanging either side of the fireplace.
  6. We’ve been wearing French perfume daily. Scotty has been wearing the fragrance he made. I’ve be switching between the scent I created and the refill I picked up at Guerlain.
  7. ‘Frenchness’ has been a thing in my clothing choices. Ballet flats and Breton striped tops have been on high rotation. And I’m wearing my new French slippers every chance I get.
  8. Baguettes have been a part of our lives, thanks to a French inspired bread board I bought while we were away. Wood is a challenging thing to bring into Australia, due to our Customs and Quarantine policies. Thankfully, there was a man in Western Australia creating the crumb catching bread board I coveted.
  9. Finally, there was that glass of French rosé I ordered at lunch over the weekend.

I’d love to know. Do you have any particular ways you hang onto ‘Frenchness’ after a trip to France? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

Please Note: This is an unsolicited post, and no compensation of any kind has been received from the brands named in this piece.

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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9 thoughts on “How I’ve Been Hanging On To The ‘Frenchness’

  • Taste of France

    Taste and smell are the senses that most vividly bring back memories–like Proust’s madeleine. So having recipes and other foods, and wearing your custom perfume, are great ways to take you back. You made such good choices of souvenirs. The cutlery is brilliant–not only was it an experience in the moment, but you have something that reminds you of it, and it’s useful, to boot.

    • Janelle Post author

      Agree entirely Catherine – so many of our fabulous memories are wrapped up in food and fragrance. I’ve made your Onion Tart twice now since we’ve been home – not just because it is delicious, but also because it takes us back to a special place and time xx As for practical souvenirs – I think I’m at a place in life where if things are not beautiful and practical, I just don’t have space for them. That certainly means I’m more likely to return home with a more curated list of ‘memories’ in my bag.

  • Kairosia

    You have struck a chord here with me. O France how I love thee! Let me count the ways. The most permanent influence of French style has been in two bathroom remodels in my home, where I intentionally mimicked une toilette I loved in one of my favorite Parisian cafés near le Jardin de Luxembourg and a bathroom from a beloved home in the Vaucluse: simple mahogany shelving (where I’ve propped select framed photos and sketches), classic white fixtures, colorful wall tiles and sturdy tile flooring. Over the decades I’ve lived back and forth in France, I’ve acquired kitchenware at the cookery stores on rue Montmartre (off les Halles, near St. Eustache in Paris), prints from the shop at the base of the Pompidou center, Provençal pottery pieces, all manner of dish towels and table linens from innumerable markets, enameled cutlery and traditional café glassware, all working their way into our dining rotation at home. As you point out, our dining style, too, acquires that Gallic sensibility. Soup courses. Salad courses. Cheese courses. Perfecting the simple fruit tart and tomato galette, nibbled with a well chilled rosé, in the shade under a red umbrella in our garden. Tartine with our café crème at breakfast. As for clothing, I buy what I know will work across the Atlantic, with black, navy, white, and other neutrals playing off color through the seasons. Walking, apéro, dining late, dining outdoors, keeping life social and simple, wearing the same quality items, mixed up differently each time. I love living like this. France imprints so many facets of our lives—forever.

    • Janelle Post author

      “France imprints so many facets of our lives – forever”. Kairosia, I feel like you’ve just summed up the last dozen years of my life in one sentence. If you looked at our decor, opened our cupboard doors and checked out my wardrobe you’d find so many of the ‘imprints’ you’ve described in your comment. In our case, some of the influences are overt – like the ones I named in the post. But so many are far more subtle and personal to our individual travel experiences. And then there are the ‘mindset’ pieces that can only come from spending time in France. For those of us who can’t be in France all of the time, I like to think that all of these ‘little’ actions and choices allow us to bring a touch of France into everyday life.

  • Alisa

    Janelle, I really struggle with this. In the past, when my trips to Paris were few or none, I clung to bits and pieces of the lifestyle that I was imprinted with as a 19 year old au pair (decades ago!). As a French teacher (sometimes) and president of our Alliance Française, I did manage a sort of ‘neither fish nor fowl’ life that always seemed unbalanced.
    Now, though, with my own apartment in Paris and the (theoretical) ability to go whenever I like and stay for as long as I like, I have decided to cut that cord. This is not to say that when I am in the US I jettison the practices that make my life in Paris so enjoyable. But, I find that my re-entry is easier and my life here more comfortable if I semi-consciously keep my two worlds separate, because they are so very different. I have actually started to remove many of my French-themed or French-origined items from my US home.
    This is not appropriate for everyone, of course, and it took me a number of years to get here, and my practices will almost certainly continue to evolve. But for now, I have made a fairly clean cut between my two very different worlds and I am much more able to appreciate my life here in the US as a result.

    • Janelle Post author

      As always Alisa, you bring such a refreshing perspective to the conversation. I really sat with your comment for a while, wondering if I’d feel differently if I had some more permanent connection to France. The short answer is – yes, I think I would. I know if life suddenly flipped for me and I was in France full time, there would definitely be parts of my Melbourne life I’d want to ‘bring to France’. It’s not necessarily about ‘either/or’ but more about ‘and’. By that I mean, finding a way to combine all the things I love. While circumstances mean that I can only visit France once, or at most, twice a year for (generally) relatively short periods of time, it feels right to bring as much of France ‘home’ as I can. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t huge chunks of my life in Australia that I genuinely adore. One thing’s for sure though – I absolutely love the fact that you’ve been able to create 2 really distinct spaces for yourself and that you get to enjoy the best of both xx