I have had a love affair with all things French for literally my entire life. Even in kindergarten, I’d tell “tales” about my trips to France (they were all imagined, of course, but none of the kids knew that). I finally took a trip there when I was 29 with my mom and it was everything and more that I’d imagined it would be.
Yvonne, a French Woman
When we lived in Boulder, we sent Maddie to a French Montessori style pre-school taught by an old Parisian woman. (She was actually a little girl in Paris during WWII!)
Some mornings, I’d walk into the school (which was housed in a house, as many pre-schools are) and find Yvonne sitting on a stool at the squat children’s table in the kitchen drinking her coffee and dipping freshly baked bread that she’d toasted into it. And she’d say, “See this? It’s very French what I’m doing here. Just toast with butter and coffee. Very French.” (Back at home that morning I could be found dipping toast into coffee, but as my particular toast turned to mush in the coffee I decided to stick to my smoothies – very American.)
Yvonne was your classic ornery, know it all French woman. She had shiny gray hair cut into a swinging bob, that she’d slide behind her ear. She never wore makeup. She was not coifed or particularly “beautiful.” Her face was deeply lined. But she was always herself, always confident, and undeniably proud (and for whatever reason she railed against Americans who had to have everything spic and span clean). Ninety-five percent of the time it was her way or the highway at that school. But the other five percent she gave a little. Her rules, were THE rules but every now and then she’d tell a child in her thick French accent, “Well okay then, if it is that important to you,” – and she seemed to have a sixth sense as to when something was THAT important to a child.
Anyway, she was my real-world, every day, experience with a French person. Did I love her? No. I wouldn’t go that far. Did Maddie love her? No, because Yvonne made Maddie try raw zucchini and avocado! But do I think the way she taught and cared for the children was exemplary? Yes, actually. So much so that even to this day Maddie (now age 11) wants to go back and visit Yvonne at the pre-school…and so do I.
Books that Might Help You Channel Your Inner French Girl/Guy in Your Everyday Life*
So, I find a lot of what I’ve read about being French quite relevant based on my experiences with Yvonne and the time I spent in France. There are so many. SO MANY!! books advising us how to be or act French. It’s funny, really. And I’ve lapped them up them over the years because I’m so drawn to the way the French think and act and live! It resonates deeply with me. (Did I say I didn’t love Yvonne? I adored Yvonne, damn it, in all her uncompromising, no-nonsense glory!) French Women Don’t Get Fat? Oh yeah, I pre-ordered it. Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl? But, of course! And once I had the kiddos, I came upon two swell reads: French Kids Eat Everything and Bringing Up Bebe – both of which demystify that same solid, unbending parenting the French are known for.
Not enough? Here’s more. I’ve read them and recommend them all…
Below, you’ll notice I’ve somehow changed the style of how I list books. Honestly, my friends, I have no clue how these ended up looking like this. I just entered the code like I normally do, but somehow the list of books showed up like this. I found displaying them this way, however, to be very user-friendly. But if you think it’s overkill, can you let me know!? I’ve been playing around with different styles and this one just sort of popped up out of nowhere. What I like best is that you can get a free preview very quickly!
*no guarantees, though!