6.17.2013

french women


i took this photo last saturday morning in antibes on an early morning walk.
it is perhaps my favorite photo of my entire trip.
there was just something about this french woman sitting there so peacefully that just stopped me in my tracks.  the ruins, the yachts, her perfect white gauzy skirt and blouse.
i've read about it for years...that certain something that french women possess.
and it is so true and so hard to put a finger on.






this woman worked in the building alongside our hotel in paris.
every morning she came to work with her dog and every morning she looked utterly chic.
i would have guessed her to be in her late 60's but she carried herself like a 25 year old.
posture and self assurance go a long long way.




and speaking of self-assurance...this woman who runs the wine and fresh vegetable shop in vaison la romaine (provence) drips with confidence.  tolerant of my poor french, perfectly groomed and utterly beautiful.

i'm not sure what it is they have but i'd love some.

i wonder what a french woman would do with my closet?
i'm assuming she'd ditch anything clingy...t shirts, tight jeans, tank tops and replace them with less trendy but well fitted pieces.
i also know she'd add beautiful scarves.

the urge to get rid of everything and start fresh is huge but of course out of the question.
sitting here this morning typing this with my hot coffee and baguette i sure would love to though.
what happened to my tea and toast?

so it's back to reality now...isn't that the hardest part of coming home from a beautiful vacation?

xo
janet






48 comments:

  1. Best ever first photo . . . I agree, would love some of the French chic and ease . . . loved the other two French women as well.

    I'd say you pretty much have that ease style chic about you . . .

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  2. I am going to run with that...what would a French woman do with my closet? Going to go explore now. Thanks for the idea.

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  3. It's a classic elegance and grace that you already have. You could easily be that woman. It is a beautiful photo......I am so glad you enjoyed yourself. XO

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    1. Janet, it sounds like you already are that woman! I just read what Faux said, and she knows you now!

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  4. There is definitely something about French women and their confident way that they comport and exude style everyday on any occasion. My friend and artist Cheryl Fortier who lives in France half of the year is a shining example. I long to study this phenomenon and figure out how to add chic style in my daily round. Scarves, scent and skin care are all I have figured out so far. Please do tell us what your observations are!

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    1. I must be the only one who doesn't like the scarf thing, it's just not for me at any rate, I just don't like the look at all, too fussy , too done, too matronly.

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  5. "Posture and self-assurance go a long, long way." I shall remember that!

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  6. Janet - you use the same je ne sais quoi....

    I found the styles in France much more flowy and less fitted than here in NA. I think they choose things which are chic and hide a multitude of sins!

    I love these pictures - so wonderful.

    Didn't you love Vaison la romaine? I thought it was beautiful!

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  7. Beautifully observed, photographed and written....I am enjoying the photographs and notes on your trip. Please keep sharing!

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  8. I love your photos! You seemed to have had a great time.

    The French are naturally nonchalant about life and have great self esteem. I truly believe it is an inherited trait passed through their DNA and I am also grateful that DNA is in mine. I admire other cultures and lived abroad in Turkey when I was young, but none of that compares to the French and their culture. Being that they are a part of my heritage, I adapted French habits and style with confidence, because they truly will never go out of style.

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  9. Wow! beautiful photos. Funny, I always think of you as chic and confident - you have your own style. Having been to Europe many times in the past 8 years since two of my daughters moved there, I can agree, the French have a chic "thing". I've learned from all the women of the S. EU countries and still admire YOU! But of course, there are things I have copied, the looser fitting clothing (but then I don't have your figure!), the carful use (never overuse) of accessories - understated and seeming so natural, and the elegant but practical sensibility. They are experts at minimalism it seems both in their closets and in their outfits. But it is that "something" that they have, I agree. Can't define it, but I have always thought you have it too! All I know is that i copy them and you both. Please keep sending the photos and your insights...lovely!

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  10. I got stuck admiring the photo before I read it was your favorite. It should be a postcard.

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  11. Janet, that first pic is stunning.
    The only hoiday I have trouble coming back from is LA, I just wish i could live out there.

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    1. wish you lived here too. and that's funny about the scarf thing. i used to think that too but being surrounded by all those hermes wearing ladies changed my mind. but it really doesn't work with our weather here.

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    2. I agree; I'm from SoCal. Pricey, but I just bought a few simple, sleeveless, pure linen sheaths/shifts for summer because it's the only fabric I can be comfortable in, in the heat. In the magazines or online, these dresses were paired with pretty scarves but, in reality, because I'm warm anyway, I'd only pull them off. The idea is to wear as little, binding clothing as possible in the heat. So, I love the idea of a great Hermes scarf...but, for me, they're to look at, or frame like a terrific photo, but not to wear. Scarves and hats, too, I just am drawn to like a magnet, but it's not wearable art for me personally. A shame really. I've tried, I really have. Love the look when it's right.

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    3. Tabitha, I agree with you about the scarves. I like scarves worn loosely, but I find the knotted ones too "done."

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  12. I love the first picture, so simple but beautiful. I admire the French chic but you do have Janet. Sometimes we dont recognize when we have arrived at the destination we dreamed about, but yes, you are definitely there.

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  13. I'm hoping to acquire a little French chic when we go to Provence in July!

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  14. I'd love some too! Coming back to reality after a trip away is always incredibly difficult as everything is the same however you're now inexplicably different.....dreading what my return will be like! Love those photos. Rx

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  15. Boy that is so true Janet...something very chic about these women. And that first photo...wow! Would make a beautiful painting!

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  16. Love your photo's from France Janet. That first photo is really special. I understand why you like it so much.

    happy week,

    Madelief x

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  17. Love the second photo. C'est magnifique.

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  18. You're right. If only they could bottle it. I've read tons of books but I'm still not a French women. Born and raised in Southern California. Maybe the French would long for that look? Maybe?

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  19. Luff the 1st snap and I still hate being back after my trip- it's lovely to see the family but the rest of it is not so great...

    I think you are French woman-esque- all simple and elegant and thin and chic x

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  20. Yeah, I went to Hawaii once to get away from work and a bad relationship, thinking I could get the guy out of my head if I immersed myself in enough sand and sea (good luck on that), fell in love with Maui and especially Lahaina; did just about anything to keep from coming home. Same thing at a Club Med in Mexico back in the day; I interviewed hard and wanted to be on permanent vacation; send me anywhere; I was up for anything. Back then you had to have a skill, a talent, a language and a sport; I had three out of four and it wasn't enough for Club Med.

    A post for pause, Janet. Any of us, no matter how long ago or for how long, seem to have all noticed and remembered a true French woman; the certain something which has been the subject of poems, books, etc. They stand apart.

    Give us more of your thoughts as they occur to you...with the day-to-day winding down from your life-changing travel adventure.

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  21. You mon ami are totally BCBG.

    And your pictures are a revelation.

    xo J.

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  22. I so agree with everything you say. When I came home I was depressed for weeks!
    xo

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  23. I love these photos and the question you've brought up about French women. I found Debra Ollivier's book "Entre Nous" fascinating reading (I devoured it- such insight into the French/American differences) and she points out that

    "the French woman is focused on living her own full life, following her own agenda and cultivating her actual self, rather than reinventing herself or pining away to be someone she's not...... Because she is sure of who she is on the inside, she naturally, inevitably, appears sure of herself on the outside." (page 4)

    I think she is only able to do this because that is the expectation of the culture: to take the self and cultivate it, as opposed to looking outside for approval (and things.)

    My theory is that in a hyper-consumer society like we have here in the states, the only way to get people out and buying is to convince them they need more... they're not enough, they need to do better and they better hurry. If there is a western civilization with more neurotic women than we have here, I'd like to know about it.

    Sorry, this got deeper than I meant to, but as a mother to a grown daughter, this culture weighs heavily on me. If I could go back in time, I'd pack them up and move out of the country so they'd have had some time away from it.

    Love to know if you've read Entre Nous and what you thought.

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    1. Great observations, SE. I agree that what draws us to the French women is not the look, but the attitude. I know a lot of French women and men, many are not so stylish, but they all have something magnetic about them, and I think it has to do with their philosophy about life. It has something to do with accepting life more as it is - accepting the contradictions, accepting pain as well as joy, taking time for pleasure, etc.

      I read Entre Nous, and enjoyed it. It of course suffers from generalizations, but I thought it had a lot more insights in it than most how to be French books.

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    2. i have that book and will start re-reading it asap!

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  24. I am really enjoying your post-trip posts, Janet. Great observations and lovely photos.

    I love the picture of you with your car and the scarf on your head. You are embodying some great California style there, and look completely comfortable in your skin. That's what it's about, isn't it?

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    1. the more i think about it yes, that has something to do with it. also, their clothes are just not as trendy as ours seem to be. still pondering it all. :)

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  25. Hi Janet! You already figured out their secret...confidence; this photo says it all. Some great European cosmetics and creams always help too. lol

    Glad you are back home safe and refreshed.
    Sincerely, Jeannette

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  26. Janet, I've been a francophile my whole life and spent many years collectively in France. I still love it to this day and miss it enormously, and yes, I've always admired the French style. Another fun book to read about food, eating, attitude, etc. is French Women Don't Get Fat. It is part memoire, cookbook, and style book. It is fun, and I found some easy, lovely recipes in it.

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    1. i have that book too. i thought about it a lot while eating in france.

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  27. welcome home janet! missed your blogging. glad you had a wonderful trip. i will keep your ideas for light packing in mind for my vacation the end if this month.

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  28. Welcome back, Janet! I missed you and see I have some catching up to do. I love the French style as well...they have so much confidence. I have my French style manual "Parisian Chic" to help me along. I hope you had a wonderful trip!

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  29. Janet, Just loved this. So true about French women and Italian women as well. I always have to fight the urge to take covert photos of them. They just have a wonderful way they put them selves together. I agree a lot is about confidence and the way you carry yourself!

    Yea for baguettes and coffee! I am going to Europe and I can't wait for that.

    xxKim

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  30. Of course you have "it" Janet! And your photos are gorgeous.

    Since you're an esthetician, do you believe French/European skin care products to be the best of the best? Will you one day share your ritual with us?

    xo, Babette

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    1. babette i really don't know much about french beauty products. i went into several pharmacies with lists of items that people rave about but never did buy any. i couldn't read the labels for one thing! my beauty routine is pretty simple and i've shared it before. in fact since i've shared it, it has gotten even simpler. i will try to do a post about that soon.

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  31. This strong "we want to be French" which you find all over the US-blogsphere fascinates me. I never heard someone in Austria say "I want to be relaxé and chique like a Parisienne". And you must believe me - we are not that chique at all! Do you have an explanation what it is that attracts you?

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    1. well paula i never got it either, the fascination with french women but after seeing them there is just something about the way they dress and hold themselves. i really can't put my finger on it but they seem to have an innate sense of style that i've just not seen here in the usa.

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    2. And alas so few blogs are devoted to being more Tirolean!

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    3. Oh Anon, that really made me laugh!

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    4. So the question is probably not what is it with the french but what is it with the US women that they have become what they are today? Because looking back, in the 1950's they were not doubt very classy and stylish, too!

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  32. Birds of a feather flock together, my friend. You are attracted to that type of lifestyle because that is YOU. Perfectly YOU. Each picture could easily be you. You went to Europe, dear Janet, and saw a glimpse of yourself. We, your readers, have seen it through The Gardener's Cottage all along, but one can never see his/her own work for the genius it truly is--either too busy doing analysis--or too busy doing synthesis.
    That's what we human beings get caught up with. xoxoxo
    -Suzanne in Illinois

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  33. i'll tell you what french women possess: great hair and strong faces and good colouring (those Gallic roots), unlike us pasty Brits. They also don't eat much. And they are born fashionable. And they are proud of themselves. Put that all together and they are knock outs at any age.
    :)
    xo Terri

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kindness is never out of style.