I have a thing for books about French-inspired living. I just adore reading about how the French live and learning how to incorporate a bit of that joie de vivre into my own life.
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One of the best books I’ve read on this topic recently is Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott. I’ve long been a fan of Ms. Scott’s blog and YouTube channel, “The Daily Connoisseur” so I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading this book. I zipped through it pretty quickly and knew immediately that I should review it here for you, my readers.
Lessons From Madame Chic: Part 1
The book is divided into three parts:
Part 1: Diet and Exercise
Part 2: Style and Beauty
Part 3: How to Live Well
I’m going to review the book in four posts because there is a lot of material to cover.
Post 1: Chapters 1-3
Post 2: Chapters 4-9
Post 3: Chapters 10-13
Post 4: Chapters 14-20
So let’s get started.
The author, Jennifer L. Scott, spent six months in Paris as a foreign exchange student in 2001. She left behind the casual lifestyle of Southern California to live with a family she refers to as “Famille Chic” in order to preserve their privacy. Madame Chic and her family lived in a beautiful Parisian apartment decorated with antiques. Everything about this family was formal – their manners, dress, daily routines – and very French.
Part 1 covers diet and exercise. It’s no secret that French women tend to be much slimmer than their American counterparts. It seems counterintuitive considering the French penchant for wine, cheese, rich sauces, and croissants. However, it isn’t magic. The typical French woman stays slim for several reasons.
Chapter 1: Snacking Is So Not Chic
The author begins this chapter with a little story about her first night at the home of Famille Chic. Late that night, a bit hungry and in search of a midnight snack, she discovers that the French don’t snack. Instead, they eat at mealtimes, sitting at a table and enjoying the experience. You’ll rarely see a French person walking down the street eating or drinking something. Food is almost an obsession with the French and as such, they believe it deserves the respect of proper mealtimes. Besides, mindless snacking isn’t chic.
Chapter 2: Deprive Yourself Not
The French may not snack but they DO enjoy their food. With a passion. Rather than following strict diets which forbid whole categories of foods like so many popular American diets, the French believe in moderation. They may have their delicious, buttery croissants but those are usually a special treat on the weekends, not an everyday breakfast choice. Those rich cheeses? Served in tiny slivers.
When my husband and I went to Paris we found that while portion sizes were much smaller than in America, the meals were completely satisfying. Meals were served in courses and often took an hour or more to eat. By taking our time, eating slowly and enjoying a glass or two of wine with our food, we left the table comfortably satiated and feeling pretty happy about life.
Chapter 3: Exercise Is A Part Of Life, Not A Chore
I wish I’d had a pedometer when we went to Paris. We walked a LOT. And that’s one of the ways the French stay in shape. Rather than getting all sweaty at a gym or running in those ghastly shoes, the typical French woman is striding through the streets, often in high heels, as she goes about her daily life. Daily shopping for food, buildings without elevators, visiting friends or running errands on foot…the French lifestyle is an active one. This is an approach I am working to incorporate into my own life. Because really, sweating is just not chic.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this book review series, probably next Friday!
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