The French penchant for fine living has touched every aspect of human pleasure and luxury, whether it’s gastronomy, fashion, sport, leisure, and conversation.
The French were the first to invent literary salons; the first to stage lavish outdoor operas at Versailles complete with ballet and fireworks; the first to have runway fashion shows and designers as celebrated as rock stars; the first to grade restaurants with one, two and three stars; the first to create coveted global brands such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Goyard and Christian Dior.
But luxury is not the same as “Art de Vivre” although they can be complementary.
Art de Vivre is appreciating not just the finer things in life, but life tout court.
It begins with appreciating the every-day, starting with that first cup of coffee over breakfast. Some French people have a ritual: breakfast in bed! Not just on Mother’s Day, but every weekend. Why not wake to soft music and bring your partner breakfast on a tray along with the morning paper? Forget the classic oversize mug and serve it in china. It tastes better!
Why not take time to get up early and walk to work, even in winter, if you can.
It’s a moment to admire the early dawn and the facades of buildings set off by the tall bare branches of trees.
Why not have a lovely clean office, with a tall green plant, blue carpet, white walls and real wood furniture, as well as some of your favorite artwork. On one wall, a white bookcase stocked with books and decorated with cherished postcards from friends and clients, a reminder of the people beyond, who have marked your existence.
Go to that new exhibit at the museum, learn a myriad of new, fascinating things!
I personally love taking time out to listen to classical music at home and savor a terrific book by a roaring fire and going to an elegant place like the Hotel Costes when in Paris, for an afternoon tea, knowing that I can sit there for hours in an Old World setting that makes me feel like I am living in a Visconti movie.
The good news is, I can share the secrets of French Art de Vivre and you can adopt it and incorporate it into your own lives, from anywhere! Do you know that In Paris, it’s very common for single people to sit down at the end of a long day, even alone at home, to a home-cooked meal served in fine china with a cloth napkin? Very different than eating ice-cream out of the carton, sitting in front of the television!
Here are a few things to do to add a little dash of fanciness to your life!
- Trade your good old coffee mug for a proper cup and a saucer when you have friends over.
- Indulge in fresh flowers, they brighten any interior.
- Get showered and dressed even when you don’t have plans for the day or if you work from home.
- Take a walk around a new neighborhood and explore your town like it’s a new place.
- Wear bright, non-transferable, lipstick.
- Don’t save your pretty items for special occasions! Burn that scented candle, try that fancy sea salt bomb bath, drink that expensive champagne, just celebrate the little things!
- Invest in elegant and timeless tableware and table linens (table cloth, linen napkins, and placemats)
- Set a proper table with all your pretty items for a fun lunch/diner with friends/family.
- Skip the new blockbuster movie for an afternoon at the museum. Admire the painting, try to learn painter’s names and different styles.
- Upgrade your daily lunch from paper towels to paper napkins.
- Upgrade your daily diner from paper napkins to linen napkins.
- Always avoid eating and drinking in plastic at all costs.
- Avoid drinking and eating on the go (meaning in the streets, subway, bus, or even in your car). That disposable Starbuck's mug is definitely not elegant.
- Learn about table manner (lots of resources on this blog and on my IG account available)
- Invest in high-quality sheets (high thread count), those should be soft, comfortable, and breathable. For a more elegant look opt for an all-white/beige/grey/ light blue look.
- Try to learn a few words from a foreign language. Not to brag and use them loosely but just for your personal knowledge.
- Never drink straight from the bottle or from a can (water, soda,..), always use a glass even when home alone.
- Toilette paper never replace tissue
- Pick a new word from the dictionary each week and try to use it that day in a sentence.
- Read, read, and read my friend.
- At home, don't scream from one room to another instead, walk to the other person and talk to them.
- Go to a wine, beer, bourbon, or even coffee tasting class and learn as much as you can about it.
- Always avoid any kind of gossip
- Try something new on the menu of your favorite restaurant
- Try a new restaurant
- Go get brunch or high tea in a fancy hotel near you
- Invest in an elegant pajama set & robe to lounge around your house.
- Invest in durable, good quality, timeless basics pieces of clothing
- Avoid wearing t-shirts, especially with big logos (no beer, food, sponge bob square pants, Frozen, Victoria Secret's, or Marvel characters logo, just.. don't) if you have to wear a t-shirt, opt for high-quality natural cotton in plain white, black, or navy.
- Invest in a watchmaker watch (and avoid designer watch at all cost!!), and learn the difference between the two (detailed blog post about this very topic coming very soon!)
Are you excited to try some of these things? Let me know how it goes!