3 Ways to Bring Out the Parisian Spirit Wherever You Are
This is a guest post written by Whitney Donaldson from WhitneyInParis.com.
When I first moved to Paris, I was always on the go. I wanted to see all of the things, wander each tiny street, and eat up every French treat in sight. Those first couple of weeks, I was very tired. I had been filling up all of my minutes and hours with tasks and to-do lists, the way we Americans do.
But then, I started to learn more about the French way of life: their monstrous amount of vacation time, dinner service starting at 8pm, the exodus in August and lengthy lunch breaks away from your desk. I learned that beyond their amazing food culture, the people of France have a healthy appreciation for leisure. To me, this is truly the spirit of Paris.
It’s not easy to get a perfect baguette or cheese lait cru in the US, so I’ve brought you some alternative ways to enjoy the spirit of Paris, no matter where you are.
1.) Apero time aka l'heure de l'apero
Ahh the apero. It’s a lovely time of day just between work and dinner. It’s routine for Parisians; they slow down and socialize with a drink (usually wine or beer), perhaps something to nibble on. The apero is the perfect time to detach from the work day, a way to consciously create space before heading into dinner. I love to sit and savor my glass of wine and take in the buzz from the streets (a.k.a. people watch).
Do it yourself: Apero can happen anywhere, a restaurant, cocktail bar or your own home. If the weather is nice, go outside. And munch on a small dish of peanuts or olives to satisfy those hunger pangs.
2.) Be a flaneur/flaneuse
A flaneur/se is someone who walks without purpose, observing what’s around him or her with no where in particular to be. The word comes from the 19th century France, usually describing a literary type who lived a life of leisure and had the freedom to move through the world at their own pace. These days I do it more often, but as I said, when I first moved to Paris, I found it hard to just let myself walk without a destination in mind.
Do it yourself: Walk around your city with no intentions. Get lost on purpose. Take a right when your first inclination is left. Bring a bottle of wine and a small picnic; you’ll know when you find the right place to break it out.
3.) Embrace joie de vivre
Sometimes we forget that happiness doesn’t always need to be pursued. It can be found in everything, big and small. In American culture, we are hardwired to look forward to the next big thing - a promotion, marriage, vacation, even the weekend.
But in France, they have perfected the art of living in the moment and enjoying the little bits of happiness that cross their paths: a warm crusty baguette, a beautifully decorated shop window, a conversation while waiting in line, fresh flowers or a pastis. They aren’t waiting around for life to make them happy, but uncover the joie in everything around them.
Do it yourself: Go out to dinner and savor every part of the process. While getting ready, put on your favorite lipstick (in Paris, it’s usually red). Before dinner, notice the bursting bubbles in your champagne flute. Make sure that your meal is long and lingering so you can enjoy each bite and, of course, your company.
I hope that in this new year, you can use these tips to bring Paris to you. And it doesn’t hurt to have some delicious soft French cheese or a glass of champagne.