Thursday, June 3, 2010


I have the most wonderful book out of the library at the moment - 'Parisiennes: A Celebration of French Women'. It is filled with vintage black and white photos and some more recent ones of... women in... Paris.

Sprinkled throughout are brief essays on different aspects of the Parisienne's life (essential topics like love, appetite, elegance and flirtation among others) written by such people as Mireille Guiliano and Carole Bouquet. This book really is a feast!

Below is one of my favourite essays from the book which evokes thoughts of the idealistic Paris life. One could imagine one really does live upstairs in a bijoux Paris apartment, sparsely furnished with well-worn pieces of furniture passed down through the generations.

'Work and Play'

It was my father who made me proud to be a Parisienne. It was through him that I fell in love with the quarter he believed to be the most beautiful in all Paris, home to the Louvre, the Opera, the Tuileries, the rue de Rivoli, place de la Concorde... I know every last nook and cranny. My current typical Parisienne day? I get up at seven a.m., tumble down the stairs and out onto the street for my first cup of black coffee at the pavement cafe nearby. I listen to the day’s talk, and breathe in the atmosphere. Then I climb back up the stairs for a few hours of writing. On the stroke of eleven a.m., mission accomplished, I interrupt my solitary labours for the beginning of my second day, the one with people in it.

What shall I see today to enrich my heart and soul, my daily life? For the Parisienne everything is urgent, important, joyous – provided your schedule is organised down to the last fifteen minutes! I try to organise my outings into ‘bouquets’: a visit to the doctor on boulevard Raspail will be accompanied by a trip to the Gallimard bookshop, with an outer loop taking in the grocery department at the Bon Marche for designer sardines, rare coffees, and other delicacies.

Should I include in my account of Parisienne hyperactivity all those things I haven’t yet done, and absolutely intend to do some day – a visit to the Musee Guimet, to Delacroix’s workshop, to the tribal art at the Musee du Quai Branly – not forgetting all the things I’m dying to do again, such as another trip to the Picpus cemetery, the place du Tertre, the Petite Ceinture tramway, the gardens at the Musee Rodin, the Parc Montsouris...

Active life, Parisienne style, is lived at a hurried – not to say furious – pace, and quite capable of being filled to the brim with shopping, fashion houses, trips to museums and theatres, strolling and idling, outings into town, and furtive escapades to the green spaces beyond.

Paris pulls you in every direction at once, keeps you constantly on the move, whether to avoid something, admire something, buy something, or let a tiny detail pierce you to the core, so that nothing is missed in the great spectacle of a bubbling, effervescent city. Thank goodness for tomorrow, I tell myself, and the chance to make up for lost time!
- Madeleine Chapsal

1 comment:

  1. I have that book and it's so beautiful. I love the old photographs and excerpts.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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