French Art of Living
The keys to understanding the French art of living
The French Art de vivre is a myriad of elements constituting a tangible and above all intangible heritage that is obvious and yet elusive, the flower of what makes one dream when one thinks of France and those who live there. But what is it exactly?
Art, culture, heritage, history
France and its rich history, fertile ground which gave birth to the spirit of the Enlightenment, homeland of writers, artists, philosophers, architects, and creators among the most brilliant in the world, has particular specificities: a rich cultural heritage which includes countless sumptuous buildings (Loire châteaux, Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, many palaces, etc.), numerous museums, theaters, cinemas, bookshops, theaters, art galleries and I pass.
France and its spirit are also the love of history, beautiful stones, old crockery, period furniture that we find and patina.
The French Art de vivre also evokes the lively debates on the terrace around a coffee, the evenings to remake the world around a good bottle, or the young people who read Sartre in the metro or in the public parks, and the less young who assiduously follow political news in Le Monde, Le Figaro or Libé.
It is true, having rubbed shoulders with other cultures and lived in different countries, that the French particularly appreciate talking about ideas and defending their point of view. The art of conversation and critical thinking also play a large part in the fantasy surrounding the French Art de vivre. The cultural and debate programs on television and radio fascinate a large number of listeners every day. spectators. The specialized press also offers many interesting works to sharpen the mind: several times the learners attending our training courses have been amazed to see that magazines such as Philosophy, or Human Sciences, or Diplomacy can exist and “even sell “. It is there that we see the tour de force achieved by the National Education and that we understand the advantage of having universities accessible to all in a world incensing emotion and driven by it, and which so often balks at taking a step back. The French art of living is therefore also culture and spirit.
There are not many other countries that can claim to have such precise rules of etiquette in their theory, nor schools and experts (Nadine de Rothschild for example) who teach them. The first contact that French language learners have with good manners are the rules of greeting and politeness, and in particular the address, and all of this often seems very codified and mysterious to them, which contributes to the glamor of a certain way.
Don’t American mothers take French mothers as an example and their “so perfect” way of educating their children (while remaining slim, beautiful and active)?
Unfortunately, behind the varnish, reality often surprises. Modern French people don’t straddle etiquette and good manners much more than the rest of the world (think of the quarter of an hour of politeness, incomprehensible in Germany or German-speaking Switzerland)!
Gastronomy, good wine
The French Art de vivre has as its privileged ambassador gastronomy, recently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and which makes France and its customs shine all over the globe.
The great chefs – Yannick Alléno, Paul Bocuse, Thierry Marx, Guy Savoy, Jean-François Trap, Hélène Darroze and all the others – with their unparalleled know-how, their technical and aesthetic standards as well as their creativity, contribute in the foreground to The French art of living.
The cuisine would be nothing without the wine: the French terroir is rich and the French wine know-how delights the palates of amateurs from all over the world. The most expensive and famous wines in the world are obviously French.
And to complete the picture, the arts of the table (setting the table with millimeter precision, choosing porcelain, silver cutlery, glasses adapted to each drink) and the art of hospitality sublimate the cuisine and wine and make from the gastronomic experience, hotel, or that of dining with friends a cultural experience.
The French art of living is also precision and a taste for detail, combined with the ability of the French – as good epicureans – to appreciate good food and to devote time, an unwavering interest, means, and to make mealtime a convivial moment.
The taste for detail is also evident, of course, in the creations of the great French couturiers.
Balmain, Lacroix, Courrèges, Chanel or Dior have given its letters of nobility to French haute-couture, which, in itself, exerts a strong power of attraction on foreign tourists amazed and excited for power, for a few thousand euros, touching the “French dream”.
French chic is exported and filled with wonder. And it is also the everyday French woman who exerts this power of wonder: we imagine her well-groomed, wearing a red lipstick, thin, feminine, cleverly elegant and relaxed at the same time, always scented and wearing cosmetics. sweet scents. It’s not for nothing that L’Oréal is a world leader in beauty.
Paris is nicknamed the “city of light”, but abroad it is mostly seen as the city of love.
It is true that France with its gentle way of life, its bucolic landscapes, its poetic language, encourages love. This vision is reflected in American films in particular (I am thinking in particular of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris).
The French kiss (kiss with the tongue) should not be foreign to this romantic vision of France, or because it still happens that men are gallant and offer flowers or chocolates to their sweetheart. It is also quite usual for men to pay for the restaurant, although with the new generations with more feminist and egalitarian visions, this can vary (we have a lot of questions about this during training in French as a foreign language, it is a subject that fascinates!).
What can we conclude from this?
The French Art de vivre is a combination of elements that take root in the history and culture of France and which denote taste, aesthetics, attention to detail, demand in all its forms ( intellectual, that of courtesy, a job well done), also the freedom to make your choices and say what you think without fear.
No element taken separately is specific to the way of life of the French, and if the concept is overused because idealized and propelled as a marketing asset to attract tourists and foreign investors, it is nevertheless based on a real originality, which consists of live surrounded by these different aspects, to perpetuate habits, to promote environments that allow this Art of Living to continue. Indeed, from Brittany to Alsace, from Provence to Lubéron, from Île de Ré to Paris or the Ardennes, every corner of France demonstrates this ability to live in the beautiful by eating good food under the sign of sharing. , while producing work based on requirement and being inclined to love (is in the Meadow :).
You could almost sum it all up in the art of taking your time and enjoying the moments that pass, which foreigners, with their “new” vision, often perceive and celebrate with superb candor.