Dames d’un Certain Age

We are fascinated with French women, and especially la Parisienne. Writing a book about them in which you guarantee your readers that they will learn the 7 essential secrets of being a woman in the French style is a fast track to the best-seller list. This idealization of the Frenchwoman includes the notion that she is slim, ageless, witty, sophisticated and very seductive. She is also a great chef (knows how to cook mackerel, for example) and juggles work and family without strain. Judging by the behaviour of the French heads of state, it seems that these stellar qualities are lost on the men of France. But certainly not on the women of North America. That is why I am writing a book called, Aging a la  Francaise, because unlike all those other writers, I actually have figured out a number of things about Frenchwomen such as how and why Parisennes keep their figures. It’s their junk food. Pathetic. Check this out.

01f98e2da9def24bc74fc2d42df24d6bf51dc9a704_00001This is a Paris vending machine. What are they selling? Waffles. I kid you not. Who the heck would want to eat a waffle from a vending machine? And where’s the fat and the salt that make a junk food addictive? No self-respecting person would turn to these as a “treat”, and certainly not a Parisienne. No human has ever said, “I got fat because of those vending machine waffles”. That was Exhibit A. On to B.

01ca873974d24f5eca4a1f377aeb47abd0b9998488 So, here  is the side of a vending machine. There is the waffle, some cookies, a package of jujubes. And, what I don’t get is the name of the product: Bon Plans. Do you get that? What does that mean in the context of furtively scarfing your junk food on the subway platform? Obviously, it’s not a bon plan. And why are we throwing in English words gratuitously anyway?  Most puzzling. But not as strange as Exhibit C.

016e97ede98774d3cf8649ce195914acf91d4341deWow. Proust would be so gratified. Madeleines in the vending machine. This is not how you get fat. These vending machines represent a mentality. And if you want to know more you will have to reserve an advance copy of my book.

In order to research this book, I have had to seek out the most chic and compelling dames d’un certain age in Paris. They are to be found here.

0194d0bbb8765893c9e8ba0d482bf2fe0d18056f13 In the north-east corner of the Marais, Merci is the height of cool. So cool that it, too, is something I don’t understand. It is a non-profit store. Proceeds to charity. Nice idea. My gallery, too is non-profit as it turns out, but not intentionally. The French don’t like the idea of profit I guess and that is part of what makes Merci very cool. I do get how beautiful the interior space is. Huge, industrial loft style, great clothes, fantastic furnishings, linens and a big draw for Parisiennes of the sort we want to research.


0119c319df3a3e36bff137f7b8b8a62c5e0eba1d07 Voila. There she is. Great coat.  Well-tailored pants.

0161aa1c6f5fbcb465d5d88c2fde57d2a3e61f282aI admire this. Tidy. Elegant. Serious. Looks like she reads Foucault.

01a099f8c0a13080f7b792fd2215617425abbee468 Another thing to notice. Not trying to look young. Doesn’t have to try hard in any way. Just is. Here’s the coup de grace.

0156ddf48e6bad16033c32abf359575d80819146cf These are her shoes. Match the scarf. She is having fun and not asking anyone’s permission. She is showing that while she looks serious and adult there is a playful side you would probably like to get to know. 01c8c7dcef260165e7d6fa6b2cd0bef1397cc40c27 So much to notice here.  Great jacket with its velvet collar. Blouse, simple and perfect. Probably cost 500 euros. Don’t ignore the finer points. Those little hairclips. This is attention to detail that requires study.

01bf3bda0f7c55ca285436e037d51b5699ef5d95b3This one is a movie star. I’m pretty sure. Let me know if you recognize her.

01829125d9962cd4797ada26e5669c55b0e5767186 Finally, I leave you with this example, from the Jardin des Plantes (a great place for stalking chic grannies). Notice how her foulard matches the orchids.