| A few facts about the French woman....
|| Facts about love and
- Want to understand how French
women manage to be so savvy, slim and elegant ? Read Harriet's
column about la
Parisienne, featuring the Seven s's:
Slender, Sensuality, Sexuality, Savoir-Faire, Subtlety, Street
- How do they
eat all that food and stay so slim ?
The 64,000 dollar question
! First of all, the women you see who are so slim are Parisian
women in the touristic parts of the capital. These women are
generally well-off and upper-class. They are very aware of fashion
and of their " ligne " (figure). If you go out into
other areas of Paris or into the provinces, you will see that
the French woman is not universally slim. What you don't see
yet in France is obesity on the scale of the U.S.
Sadly, this will be a problem for the next generation due to
unstructured eating habits and snacking on sugary and salty foods.
This being said, the answer to how do French women eat "
all that food " and stay so slim is that they don't eat
" all that food ". Even at dinner parties, French women
take a tiny bit of each dish, tasting everything, but managing
to consume very little. A recent study showed that American dinner
plates are much larger than French dinner plates so just imagine
: the French dinner plate is already smaller and the French woman's
portion must be only one-fourth of that plate. But remember :
they don't totally deprive themselves and when they are invited
to dinner, they never say " I'm on a diet ". They enjoy
their evening and make up for it the next day! Balance
are French virtues that French women practice well. Read Lithe!
Slender! French!by Harriet.
- How do they
get that scarf to look so French ?
It's true that Frenchwomen
have an inimitable way of tying scarves which gives them a casual
but elegant look. How they do it must be inscribed into their
French genes. There's no way to know about that but one thing
is sure : whether it's the scarf or perfume or accessories, the
main interest of the French woman is to emphasize her singularity.
Her little black dress or tailored suit might be simple but watch
for the detail : a pair of sexy high heels, a family brooch,
sparkling earrings, a special shawl. In French society, conformity
is not a value. Reflecting that, French women seek the object
that will express her own personality, the object that will put
the personal stamp on whatever she is wearing, whether it's a
fancy dress or a pair of jeans.
- Names : When Mr.Frog marries Miss Jolie, according to a law
passed in 2005, they can choose the name of their children between Kid
Frog (most frequent), Kid Frog-Jolie (already traditional in
certain regions), Kid Jolie or Kid Jolie-Frog (both still very
unusual). When Mr Frog-Toad marries Miss Jolie-Mignonne, they
give a headache to city clerks....
- Marriage : more and more couples are not married
(more than a half of children have un-married parents). The religious
ceremony has no legal value and is not always associated with
the marriage (only one religious ceremony out of three marriages).
The civil marriage takes place in the City Hall, is pronounced
by the Mayor or his/her deputy. The ceremony is brief and quite
unspectacular by American standards. The young couple receives
a "Livret de Famille" that they will have to keep for
the duration of their common life and which will bear the names
and information on birth and death of their children.
"PACS" (Pacte Civil de Solidarité) is a
contract between two persons (men and/or women) which has the
legal effects of marriage in many matters (common property, tax
effects, social protection, etc...) but can be terminated like
any contract. It was created in 1998, it has developed very fast and
it is rather largely used among homosexual couples. The number
of PACS in 2007 was 103,012 (to compare to 266,500 marriages)
with 13,000 terminations (to compare to 140,000 divorces). Marriage between people of the same sex is not legal but is being
- Inheritance : in France you cannot (by law) desinherit your children : read about it.
- More to come
DID YOU KNOW
THAT.....? On Valentine's Day (Saint-Valentin, February
14), the city's 3,600 electronic billboards post love poems that
lovers send to each other (submit yours at 01 42 76 47 47) ;
on 12 lines of the city's buses, comedians read love poems to
The most romantic places in Paris....
- Frenchwomen hold the European
record for number of babies born and for longevity
- 47,6% of Frenchwomen work outside
the home (USA : 46,9%) and 6% only are in executive management
position (USA : 5,1%) (Source : Conseil Economique et Social,
- Paid maternity
16 weeks (26 from the third child) and 2 weeks for the father
(see Social Security). Read
about the French way of raising children.
- Women are
the French Senate and National Assembly. France ranks
#21 in Europe (out of 25). French politicians are very macho : read
more about women
in politics. and read a portrait of Segolene
Royal, who ran for president in 2007.
- The concept of dating does not exist in France : young people
tend to move in groups and do not form couples the way they do
in the States
- Famous French women include
- Joan of Arc, 15th century saint,
who saved the French from the English and was burned at the stake
first woman to teach at the Sorbonne (1906), twice awarded the
Nobel price, once in Physics and once in Chemistry,
- Simone de Beauvoir, philosopher
and famous French feminist ("Le deuxième Sexe"),
- and many others... (more in
who's who in France)
- French laws are sometimes late to adjust to the reality of society : read a funny anecdote about women wearing pants!
few suggested books on French
- Elisabeth BADINTER, L'un
est l'autre, Odile Jacob, 1986
- Edith KUNZ, Fatale - How
French Women do it, Bridgewood Press, Phoenix, 2001
- Michèle SARDE, Regard
sur les Françaises Xème XXème siècle,
Stock, Paris, 1983
- Susan SOMMERS, French Chic
- How to Dress Like a French Woman, Arlington Books, London,
- A.L.THOMAS, DIDEROT, Mme d'EPINAY,
Qu'est-ce qu'une femme ? (préface par Elisabeth
BADINTER), P.O.L., Paris, 1989
- Edith WHARTON, French Ways
and their Meaning, Berkshire House, Lee, MS, 1997
- More bibliography
DID YOU KNOW
THAT.....There is an agency called "Paris,
le Grand OUI!"
(!!!) which organizes a complete round-trip tour for couples
who want to get married in Paris, together with their relatives
and friends ... See other wedding agencies.
Getting married under French law is rather complicated and,
practically, it requires you to be resident in France. Why not
a religious wedding in France ? There would be no legal requirement
whatsoever and the religious authority would just ask for the
marriage license from the country where you were married. Check
with American churches.
It is not
easy to get married in Paris, but if you want a place to propose
to your loved one, here are a few suggestions :
- A cruise on
the "Bateaux Mouches" (or, better, a dinner cruise)
- A walk on Ile
Saint Louis (and an ice-cream at Berthillon...)
- A visit of the
and lunch in the garden
- A concert in
- A visit of the
garden of Impressionist painter Claude Monet in Giverny (20 miles
NW of Paris) : any season but even Winter is spectacular
- A dinner in
one of the (expensive but beautiful) restaurants in a park :
Pavillon Montsouris 20 rue Gazan 75014 (Parc Montsouris), Pré
Route de Suresnes (Bois de Boulogne) : an unforgettable experience
- A cruise on
the Grand Canal (in the park of Versailles Castle) : read a charming
letter from a visitor from
- Read : Thierry SOUFFLARD, The
Best Places to Kiss in Paris, Parigramme, 2002
- More to come
Getting married in Paris !!!
Can you think of anything more
romantic than getting married in Paris ?
- Check with the nearest French
- You need to have stayed in France
for a minimum of 3 months
- No religious constraint whatsoever
question (where, how, what, how much, ....)? For more details,
read AAWE book (in bibliography)
and why not ask a Wedding
Planning agency ?
and Philippe Rochefort at the City Hall of the 5th Arrondissement
of Paris, on their wedding in 197??)
Required documents (less
than 3 months old) :
- French residence permit or U.S.
- Birth certificate
- Certificate of celibacy (from
: American consulate)
- Affidavit of law (from : Attorney
licensed in both countries)
- Medical certificate (from :
- Proof of domicile (check with
In fact, it is much more difficult
than in the USA : if you absolutely want do do something
in Paris, why not check with one of the American
churches in Paris ?
|To related pages : the French and sex, life in Paris, French attitudes,
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Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French.
Order her books :
- "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
- "French Toast, An American in Paris
Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press,
New York, 1999
- "French Fried, The Culinary Capers
of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001
More on Harriet's books (excerpts, upcoming
events, testimonials, etc..)
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