Do the French really know all about la vie?


Vive la vieille!

OK, I finally get it, the reason for all the bad karma that has come my way. It all started at birth, when I was born a baby, not a bébé. Then I grew into a woman, not a femme. And now I’m just a plain old dame, not even une femme d’un certain âge. In short, all my troubles came about because I’m Not French. Zut alors!  If only I’d been born une Française, it would have all been so very different. Pretty much parfait, in fact.

For the last while there’s been a growing genre of books telling us just how much better off we’d be if only we hadn’t suffered this terrible misfortune of Not Being French. However, all is not lost – even the least French among us can aspire to a little savoir faire by following the guidelines so kindly provided by these authors. Mon dieu, there’s hope even for us pauvres non-Frenchy imbéciles.

They instruct us how to lead French lives from the cradle to the grave, guiding us through all stages of life. French women comprendre tout. We too can raise children the French way, producing well-behaved enfants instead of our usual bad-ass kids. We need never sleep alone, but if we choose to, there’s a special French way to do it beautifully and with style. (And if all else fails, we can always get a cat.)

Vanity Fair writer James Wolcott has written an interesting analysis of this school of Frenchy self-help, aptly titled Liberté, Fraternité, Superiorité – quite insightful for a mere English-speaking homme.

And now, especially for us sad, sagging boomer ladies, there is French Women Don’t Get FaceliftsThough the author is somewhat coy about the actual role of facelifts in the French woman’s arsenal against ageing, she is quite firm on one point: It’s all about l’attitude, mes chéries. With the right attitude even we unfortunates can exude l’allure française.

And what is the right attitude? It is nothing less than lifelong dedication to looking good at all times, 24/7, no slacking allowed. Body, mind and spirit are all directed towards this end. And in the end, which will come, as it must even for the Frenchiest of the French, you will leave behind a much-admired corpse. Even in death, you will be bien dans ta peau. And what could be greater reward than that?

The spirit of la vie française has been embraced far and wide. Here’s what non-French former supermodel Christie Brinkley (60) recently had to say: “With proper diet, exercise, and joie de vivre, every birthday is cause for celebration.” Forget surgery, forget botox, isn’t it amazing what all that joie de vivre can do for you (with just a little help from a gifted hair artiste)? See for yourself below. Then scroll down for Mam’selle BB’s own version of l’attitude.  For the record, I do have some precious French blood in my veins, but no more than a few corpuscles after all these centuries.

Christie Brinkley, a vision of French loveliness.
Christie Brinkley, a vision of French loveliness.

With all that inborn French perfection, could anyone please explain what went wrong with Brigitte Bardot? Was it taking up with animals instead of devoting herself to la toilette?

The original Mam'selle BB.
The original Mam’selle BB.

Personally, I’m rather glad she chose the animals. In a future post I’ll be featuring my own favourite animal, Mam’selle Lola – a feline far more beautiful than any of us femmes. Mind you, she does spend an awful lot of time grooming…

La belle Lola.
La belle Lola.

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