Pondering Passion: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are

In honor of today’s Buttontapper Challenge prompt, Passion, I bring you a Nonfiction Friday review of How to be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style and Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas.

I grabbed a copy of this book at my local library, drawn by the title – but let’s be honest, even more by the subtitle. Obviously I’m all about love, style goes without saying for Parisians, and bad habits? Well, if you consider drinking wine and enjoying the company of men to be “bad habits,” then hell yeah, let’s do this.

The book did not disappoint. In fact, I will probably have to order a copy for myself at some point (probably the UK version, which has a much more chic cover than the red, white and blue American version, which is why I’ve included it, above), because it’s one of those books that you just need to flip through whenever you’re feeling a little bummed and need something to boost your confidence again.

Parisian women are nothing if not brimming with self-confidence.

Now, lest you think this book is nothing but a collection of silly, worn-out clichés like Catherine Deneuve’s stance on sexual harassment, I encourage you to ponder anew. Written by “four stunning and accomplished Frenchwomen,” as the inside jacket cheekily describes our authors, this volume is full of insights into real French women’s minds, hearts and souls – not to mention their kitchens, because yes, you will even find a couple of recipes in here.

You’ll also find a few recipes for good dinner party conversation. According to the authors, politics and sex are not considered taboo but instead are excellent fodder for heated debates, i.e. the spark of any great passion.

There are so many notable quotables in this book, it’s hard to pick just a few of the best morsels. Between the “Fifteen Words You Need” (which notes that all Parisians carry a carnet, or notebook, and introduced me to the concept of plouc), “Parisian Snobbisms,” and list of books found on a Parisienne’s bookshelf, there are plenty of witty bits. But here’s a brief one that suits my own hobbyhorse today, entitled “The Art of Make-Believe”:

The secret to making a man know you need him:

Of course you can open a bottle of wine by yourself.

But let him do it. That’s equality, too.

There’s an entire section of this book dedicated to owning your bad habits. It is, as you may have guessed, totally life-affirming.

In short, the Parisienne is a woman of many passions and many contradictions, just like me.

Perhaps just like you, too?


  • Angela

    I’ve always thought that French women in particular just seem to have this ease and self-confidence about them. I will definitely be checking this one out, thank you for sharing!

    • Laura Roberts

      They do always seem so poised and perfect, and this book also gives a good glimpse of their internal battles against exactly that image, too, so it was quite fascinating (and a little tongue in cheek, too).