8 Strangest Secrets to Being Parisian

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are © Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House
By M. Elizabeth Sheldon Posted October 07, 2014

In How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, by chic Parsiennes Caroline de Maigret, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas, you get the feeling these women are simply fed up with being asked for their advice and decided to write it all down.

Americans are obsessed with French women. We scrutinize their eating habits. We fetishize their messy bed-head hairdos. We throw our fears of horizontal stripes to the wind and spend hundreds of dollars on sailor shirts. There’s been so many cheesy books written about trying to emulate female French je ne sais quoi it’s hard to imagine why we would need one more. But in How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, a new collection of tips and essays by impossibly chic Parisiennes Caroline de Maigret, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas, you get the feeling these women are simply fed up with being constantly asked for their advice and decided to finally write it all down, the good, the bad and the merde (or in their words, to “dispel the mystery"). The result is funny, witty and surprising (plus, any book that includes sections on both how to actually have an affair and how to just make someone think you’re having an affair is probably worth a read, right?). Below are a few of our favorite tips from the book, but trust us—it's worth getting your hands on a copy. 

1. Invest in a signature item, like a coat or a bag. Classic is good. Bling is bad.

2. Never be self-conscious about sitting alone in public (French women always have a good reason to be wherever they are).

3. Don’t talk about jobs or money during dinner parties. Talk about sex and controversial political topics (you don’t want anyone to be bored right?!), and never have more than six guests.

4. The word hors d’oeuvres may be French, but French women don’t care about preparing appetizers! This just proves you are too busy and important to worry about such things. It’s like the dinner party version of not texting someone back right away. This is probably the best advice you will ever receive.

5. You only need to memorize two recipes: one should be easy and fast, and one should be crazy complicated and impressive. Alternate as needed. 

6. Everyone should learn how to make a vinaigrette, but the order of ingredients matters more than what flavors you choose to include: “Salt, then vinegar, then water, then oil, and pepper last of all.” Memorize this.

7. Never hand someone the salt, always set it on the table for them to pick it up. It’s unclear why this is a rule, but think of all the French people you’ve probably offended by handing them a salt shaker. Never again.

8. “Leave a party while it’s in full swing. (Even your own).” Who will lock up and feed the cats? Who cares?! You are so French.

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