Archive for January 2009


This search for “Frenchness” is about beauty. But what is beauty? And what do I mean in this context? Is it the curled metal legs on rustic furniture? Is it the carelessly draped scarf across the shoulders? Red lipstick on pouty lips? Does it relate to the Fibonacci series of perfect ratio in design? An attitude of confidence? A pink powder puff?

Perhaps it is to do with inner beauty and living with authenticity? In an article Patricia Varley expresses a feeling of trepidation because she felt her outer image of beauty and confidence did not truly represent the fragile and unconfident girl she felt inside, as she prepared to stand before an audience of women to speak about beauty. I think she expresses the feelings many of us feel often in our lives.

In my search for this sense of style I see plenty of examples of what it is NOT: badly chosen and ill-fitting clothes; excess weight; crude behaviour; lack of manners; road-rage and shopping centre-rage and life-rage; loud-mouthed speech; bullying; ignorance; laziness; lack of care of the environment and community; lack of kindness…..

venus_de_miloBeauty is not about superficial and popular ideals. It is rooted firmly in history. It is not about trying to adopt some artificial notion about what is popular. For example, tattoos can be beautiful pieces of art and I can see some kind of strange beauty in a unique application on an individual once in a while. But on the whole I think they are ugly pieces of poor art scrawled over the sagging flesh of ignorant people desperately trying to be accepted into some abstract notion of “being radical”, “bad”, “cool”, or “out-there”. And on a perfect athletic human specimen it is like bad graffiti. I know I am out of sync with this thinking but so be it.

Beauty is about finding your authentic self and living your authentic life with assuredness and confidence. It is the possession of your own unique self, embracing it, celebrating it, and living your chosen activities knowing your Self, expressing it, and still gently allowing space for others in our community – even if they choose to put bad tattoos on saggy flesh. It is caring, kindness and courtesy. It is composure. It is awareness, celebration, joy, and fun. It is not false. It is Truth. It is essential and yet the mystery remains and captures the eye and the heart. It is not an exhibition but an appreciation.

Beauty, therefore, is not just a look; it is a way of living. It is a process. It unfolds gently like an opening bloom. It can take some of us many years to realise we don’t need to do what we are told by others. And still more time to have the confidence to live that lifestyle we have discovered to be our own preference. For me I know that surrounding myself with objects that meet my notion of beauty helps lift my mood; a bunch of roses in a vase, art that pleases me, music, the French language, a well-set dinner table offering a nourishing meal, cotton sheets, playing my piano (badly but playing anyway), painting my own art when I do feel inspired, doing yoga, cycling to work rather than driving my car.

My search for this elusive quality continues; not in earnest but with delight.


3 comments January 22, 2009

French blogs

I subscribe to and read several blogs where the focus is on French lifestyle, fashion, images, food, decor and longings. Reading these regularly helps me to indulge my own longings for whatever it is we all crave and are trying to define, attract, and manifest in our lives.

Charles Bremner – Times Online

Charles Bremner is based in Paris and is the correspondent for the Times.


Chocolate and Zucchini

Clotilde Dusoulier writes from Paris France and offers delicious recipes.


Fete et Fleur

“A place to dream” is a beautiful blog written by an American woman who lives in the United States.


French Accent

“An Australian who covets French things” My own humble offerings as I attempt to attract the beauty and inspiration of the French lifestyle to my own life on the far side of the globe in Australia ~ Susan Bentley


French Life – Expat France

“Living in France and daily life for a UK expat in the French blog” offers no name but is from a UK family of four.


French Word-A-Day

“Serving you a thrice-weekly slice of French life” Kristin Espinasse is an American living in the French Riviera and delivers this beautifully crafted blog.



American Pamela Poole lives in Paris and writes about her experiences.


Helena Frith Powell

Author of “Two Lipsticks and a Lover” Helena Frith Powell is a UK writer who lived in France with her family for a while but now lives in Abu Dhabi while continuing to write her blog and articles for magazines.


La Belette Rouge

Written by an American woman who lives in Los Angeles and is a self-confessed Francophile.


Laura’s French Language Blog

Laura K. Lawless lives in France and offers tips and language advice.


Life in Paris

Offers no name but is a “starving Englishman artist” and offers many photos of Paris.


One Thing in a French Day

“A small slice of a Frenchwoman’s day in France and in French” is anonymous and offers audio, but is not a well set out page. But if you subscribe to it in a reader then you will not see the website but still receive the information.


Paris Breakfasts

“I paint Paris dreams…” Carol Gillott is based in New York and offers this beautiful blog with regular watercolour paintings of French images.


Petite Anglais

Catherine Sanderson is a UK writer who moved to France some time ago and documented her life there online and is now a well-known author of the book of the same name. This is the first blog of this type that I began reading some years ago and I have continued to read with interest and amusement.


Spirit of Paris

“Photographies de Paris” is anonymous but offers photographic images of Paris.


The French Journal

“A site for Francophiles. Notes on French culture, history, geography, food, wine, travel, and more” This blog is by an American man who lives in Boston.


Tongue in Cheek

“A collection of French antiques, stories, and daily happenings while living in France.” Corey Amaro is an American who lives in France with her French husband.


You can find more French blogs at the 10 best French blogs for Francophiles and French blogs offered by

1 comment January 13, 2009

Jean de Florette

This week’s ‘French fix’ was the viewing of two French movies at home. Jean de Florette and the sequel Manon des Sources starring Gerard Depardieu and Daniel Auteuil were made in 1986, by the filmmaker Claude Berri. Both movies are in French with subtitles.

These movies tell the story set in a quaint French village about some local farmers who sabotage the water flow from natural springs that supply the village water.

The hunchback, Jean de Florette inherits an old stone farm house and attempts to set up a new life for himself, his wife, and young beautiful daughter Manon, played by Emmanuelle Beart. The scheming farmer who lives next door effectively undermines all the hardworking attempts made by Jean, as he tries to set up a rabbit farm.

Tragedy unfolds over the course of their lives and the sequel follows the daughter Manon as she scampers wild with her goats amongst the rocky hillside. There is an ultimate conclusion but it is not a happy one.

These movies did not do much to satisfy my French longings apart from offering some immersion in the French language.

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