Feeling down that you likely won’t get to go to Paris any time soon? Me too. I spent six years in Paris, and it breaks my heart that I can’t pop over to wander the streets of my favourite city, snacking on pastries, stopping to read by the Seine, and – of course – popping into my favourite museums. Wherever you are though, there are things you can do to bring a little bit of the Parisian lifestyle to you. Here are five ways you can live like a Parisian at home.
1) Learn to flâner
There’s no better way to embody the Parisian lifestyle at home than to take on this very French concept, and become a flâneur. Technically, to flâner is to stroll, wander or dawdle. In 19th century literature, the flaneur is a figure with riches enough to simply wander around, observing, if not participating in, society (incidentally, by “figure” I mean a man – the concept of a flâneuse – a female flâneur, doesn’t emerge until much later). Of course, wandering the streets might not be the best idea right now, but if you’re still allowed regular exercise in your area, don’t take it too seriously: instead, relax, wander slowly, and step into your role as a modern-day flâneur(se).
2) Shop local
While doing the weekly food shop was never particularly fun, there’s certainly an extra edge to it these days. If it’s possible in your area, do as Parisians do, and ditch the supermarkets for local stores. Anecdotally, it seems that while supermarkets are suffering from panic-buying, independent shops are well-stocked. And, if there was ever a time to support your local butcher, baker and candlestick-maker, this is it.
3) Read… and be transported to Paris (or anywhere)
The bookworms among us know a secret. While this lockdown is stressful, strange and downright scary, it’s also an opportunity for reading. If you’re like me, you’re already digging into the stacks of previously unread books that have been looking at you longingly for the past few months. But if you need some inspiration for books that will transport you to the City of Light, check out our blog post on our favourite books about Paris.
4) Take mealtime seriously
French cuisine is famous around the world, and for good reason. A gourmet meal in a fancy French restaurant is something everyone should experience at least once. But the best way to adapt to the French lifestyle is to change your food habits when you’re at home. The best French meals contain simple, fresh ingredients, and can easily be made at home. If you need some inspiration, Beeta at Mon Petit Four has a great list of easy French recipes to try out. More importantly though, French custom dictates that we should take the time to sit at the table – with family if possible – and savour our meals. So if you really want to embody that Parisian lifestyle, no more wolfing down dinner in front of the TV!
5) Treat yourself
It’s a cliché that Parisian women are beautifully made up and presentable at all times. Yes, like anyone else they do throw their hair in a pony and hang out in sweatpants occasionally (not outside their apartments though! Sacré bleu!). But Parisians – both male and female – have long understood that we should always make time for a little luxury. Even if you’re stuck at home, there’s no reason not to take a long bath, pop on a face mask and relax (if you’re into that kind of thing). Treating yourself means something different to everyone – but in this scary time more than ever, it’s important to make time for whatever it means to you.
Tell us your Parisian lifestyle tips
If you have any other insights on how to be Parisian wherever you are, let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear about how you’re adopting French customs from home.
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I would add, dress up!
Parisians would not be caught, even in quarantine, wearing slacks and a t-shirt, and this even if no one else is looking.
I find that getting dressed in the morning, even when you have nowhere to go and no one to see, really helps with keeping a sense of purpose and normalcy!