I have a mate of mine who has a theory as to why French food is so good. He claims that when the English layed siege to French towns in medieval times, the inhabitents had to eat rats and such like, so they concocted sauces to make any old muck taste OK.
On the other hand he also argues the French buy so much perfume because French women don't wash too often and use the l'eau d'toilette to cover the odd bit of whiffiness.
I could of course not condone such outragous views, but he is at least right in that one hell of alot a perfume is shifted on the ground floor of Paris's premier department store ; Galleries Lafayette.
As I had half an hour to kill in this place I tried to work out what attracted consumers to the different brands that all had their own counters. French Women seemed to know exactly what they wanted - heading straight for the main brands like Channel. Most Frenchmen appeared to wander about until they found the counter with what they considered to be the most attractive sales assistants. The John-Paul Gaultier counter seemed to especially busy that day.
One of my Paris guilty pleasures:
Admiring the basic style, "Bon gout" or good taste - one of the reasons why sitting at a cafe is the joy that it is.
Style is buyin' your moms a house
Style is a clean mouth
Style is puppy breath
Style is no fear of death
Ok, so I know you're on vacation and you don't care what these people think but please be aware that if you wear shorts in Paris you might as well carry a sign saying I AM A TOURIST!
They may wear short skirts but they never ever wear shorts. Actually they do, but is a subject of much hilarity. Last summer just before the August vacations started one of the lawyers in the firm came to work with Bermudas and shoes with no socks. I guess he was making a statement but he is French and can get away with it.
You will just look silly.
One fashion accessory that all Parisians (or almost all at least) have is a scarf. Ask any visitor and you will have it confirmed that Parisians wear scarves yearround. I've seen it myself when the winter temperatures are in the high 50F's the winter scarves are apparent on both men and women. When the weather is exceptional the women sport neatly, artistically tied scarves. It certainly appears that the Parisians have perfected the this art.
If you are American, it would be beneficial to not broadcast it to the city. First of all, shorts, short skirts, and tank tops are generally not allowed in cathedrals. Some rules are different from place to place. Respect this rule! Make an effort to blend in with the locals. The French are very fashionable and will treat you better if you attempt to make an effort.
Paris fashion models are a reflection of what in my opinion is the Paris essence of style, found nowhere else in the world.
My friend Anthony sometimes gets lucky enough to photograph the glamorous models of Paris.
Tough duty Anthony.
Some other photos can be found here:
I can't say how many times I have seen "is it OK to wear tennis shoes and blue jeans in Europe?" asked in different forums. Although Parisians are generally well dressed, older Parisians more so than the younger ones it seemed, certainly you see locals wearing tennis shoes and jeans although I noticed that most of the tennis shoes were colored, not stark white like many of ours in the US.
The bottom line is that you will be doing a lot of walking in Paris if you really want to enjoy the city and you need to wear comfortable shoes. If comfortable shoes means tennis shoes then that is what you should wear.
Some personal observations of these cool Parisians:
(1) Everyone in Paris really does the 'kiss-kiss' thing to greet each other. However, DON'T do it if you're a gentleman. Yes, men in Paris don't kiss each other. At least that's what I noticed. Anyway, my best friend and I were kissed more times in our week there compared to our entire life up to this point. haha.
(2) Oh...and NOBODY in Paris jogs. Try talking to a Parisian about the 'stairmaster' and they'd stare at you blankly. ;-)
(3) So, they stay thin with the help of nicotine and caffeine. For non smokers (like me), we DO need the 'Stairmaster'! :-(
(4) Nobody in Paris ever wear sweatpants. Horror of horrors - that would be too uncool for them! People here actually wear leather pants to the grocery store and it's probably the only city in the world where a young woman must wear a miniskirt in order NOT to be stared at. Do I look like I'm kidding?
(5) Condoms are called 'preservatifs' (hehe...) and are available from vending machines on the streets. Why don't these French people call condoms - condoms instead of PRESERVATIFS. Hm...
Edith Kunz, the author of the recently published "Fatale: How French Women Do It," went on a quest to find the answer to a most crucial question: What is the secret behind the power of seduction of French women.
Ms Kunz plunges into French history to find the key to this powerful and yet mysterious power.
She revisits troubadours who were the first to codify the rules of courtship, to introduce a ritual into the relationship between men and women, in the Middle Ages. She ends with the modern era, the era of Catherine Deneuve.
The historian of seduction examines every aspect of the French woman's charm: her diet, the culture she is raised in, the ideology that shapes her, the decor of her bedroom, her role as wife and mistress, the issue of age and what she calls "the art of brilliance" which Frenchwomen use to dazzle French men.
What's the secret of French women?
One word: confidence. They are confident in themselves, confident with their age, their body, with their power.
They are sensuous even at work. They charmed men to death, and it is fun for both. It looks like a lot of sensuousness.
Hmmmm.......I suppose a "Geisha" can learn a lot from that (or vice versa perhaps?) ;-))
Besides the shopping, the arts, the cuisine, the people-watching, and the nightlife, one of my other favorite pastimes in Paris is pampering myself at one of their salons.
It seems that every block in Paris has at least one beauty salon! This goes to show how the Parisians take their style and beauty seriously!
There's nothing like getting a soothing head massage and shampoo after walking the boulevards of Paris all day!
Note: Keep in mind that if the hair stylist says "10 minutes".......... in REAL time that's 30 minutes! ;-)
The people of Paris are well dressed and very stylish. You won't see too many people with baggy jeans down around their thighs and their underwear showing.
If you want to fit in, plan to dress nicely the way the locals do.
for the ladies: please don't wear shorts!!! Wear a skirt - you're in paris and are not only allowed, but encouraged to be sexy!!!
for the (american) men: whateveryou do, refrain from wearing large, white tennis shoes. You might as well be wearing a sign that says, "make mean jokes about me in french, 'cause I sure as hell won't know what you're saying!"