When I started this blog over 6 years ago, it was because after return visits from both France and Italy, I realized that one of the things I loved so much was the culture and lifestyles of these countries. And I wanted to share that with others.
It’s no secret I’d rather be in one of those countries, but when I am not, I try to find ways that I can feel more connected to that lifestyle. Like I am living that life, even from so far away.
Here are a few hints and tips for infusing a bit of the French culture into your everyday lifestyle.
1. Make friends with cheese and bread. France has over 250 cheeses and boasts the best bread on the planet. These two food items are a large part of the French citizen’s day. Seek out a local bakery and gourmet cheese shop and indulge in some bread and cheese whenever possible. Many supermarkets have come along way, so if you don’t have specialty shops in your area, try your supermarket. If all else fails, online shops like Murray’s (for cheese) and even Poilane in Paris will deliver right to your door. Experiment and work your way through as many styles of cheese as you can to find your fav.
2. Listen to some French music. I love French music. And there is such a wide variety, you are sure to find something that appeals to you. Styles like accordion music and chansons, or favorite artists like Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet are great vintage options. If you like more modern-day music try Daniel Balavoine, Carla Bruni, Jeanne Cherhal or Camille. Compilation CD’s are a great way to experience all little bit of everything. Visit iTunes and create a French play list that can be enjoyed anywhere.
3. Read. Read anything about France you can get your hands on. Memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, French decorating books, history books, magazines – even blogs. You’ll learn a lot about the culture from all angles.
4. Make meals an event. You know how as Americans sometimes we skip meals, grab fast-food, eat in the car and swill our food down in about five minutes flat? Not only is that bad for your health, but it’s really no fun! In France, eating is a social event and something the French take pride in. Learn how to set a proper table. Use the good china and silverware, light some candles, adorn the table with fresh flowers. Make the table inviting. Whether you are eating for two, with your children or having a full-blown dinner party- make your meal a 2-3 hour enjoyable event, without distraction and with intelligent conversation – not a rushed Kentucky Fried Chicken evening in front of the tube.
5. Learn some of the language. Nothing says I’m gettin’ my French-on like speaking or understanding the language. Not only will this go along way if you plan to travel to France, but you’ll find yourself excitedly dropping bonjours, mercis and a beintôts any chance you get with a smile on your face..and French in your heart. You might even find a French pen-pal or email buddy, where you can practice what you have learned.
6. Watch some French themed movies. Take those language skills to the next level by watching French films with the English subtitles on. Or pop in an American movie set in France and you’ll be able to tour the country and swoon over scenes in Paris, Provence, the French Riviera and more! Paris fans should try Amelie or Paris Je’Taime. A Good Year is a great option for Provence lovers.
There are certainly a hundred more ways to infuse the French culture into your lifestyle! Share some of your favorite ways.