I was gifted the infamous How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are shortly after moving to Paris. I originally believed it would be a guide on how to assimilate with and understand the women who inhabited the city, only to discover it was a delightfully tongue-in-cheek tome that both doles out helpful advice, and pokes fun at what the majority of the world believes to be a stereotypical Frenchwoman.
The book itself is written in a very sharp, sassy tone by its four authors: Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas, Audrey Diwan, and Anne Berest. It’s full of anecdotes, (sometimes dubious) advice, inspirational quips, and lovely photos and illustrations. It covers everything from how a Parisian spends her weekend, to her thoughts on miniskirts, to what kind of man she fancies.
The book does have some cringe-worthy sections, such as a guide on how to pretend you have a lover to make your boyfriend jealous (as well as a guide on how to keep your beau from finding out about your actual lover!). However, these should be read as they were written – that is, sarcastically.
That said, for all its satirical deconstruction of the mystique of the French woman, the book does contain some practical information. This includes some recipes for typical French foods, a list of Parisian faux-pas, a lecture on the importance of skincare, and how to achieve that elusive French girl hair.
How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are is not something you’ll read from front to cover in one go, but it’s an enjoyable book that you can pick up, read a few pages, and have a laugh or pluck some inspiration. As long as you don’t expect to receive any solid life advice from the book, and read it with a sense of humour, you’ll find it a welcome addition to your bookshelf or coffee table.
Just consider hiding it whenever a real Parisian drops by.