So what exactly does “La Vie Paris” mean?
My intent is for it to translate as “The Paris Life” although to be fair I’ve probably mangled the phrase inexcusably. To me however, La Vie Paris encompasses more than red lipstick and red wine. Rather it is a mindset, a way of life that impacts my behavior and even my way of thinking.
In my head, La Vie Paris is:
- Formality: The Paris Life means a formality that can be mistaken for mystery, aloofness, even arrogance. It’s the knowledge that being polite is not the same thing as being an extrovert or a people-pleaser. Beyond certain etiquette obligations such as saying “hello” or “excuse me”, making small talk is not mandatory. I am not required to provide my life story nor engage in the life drama of strangers on the bus. I am not responsible for filling awkward silences and I am not obliged to agree with others’ opinions or give in to their requests for my time, money or attention unless I genuinely wish to do so. In La Vie Paris, “Non” is a complete sentence and privacy is sacrosanct.
- Intelligence: The Paris Life entails a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. More than exposure to and repetition of simple facts, however, La Vie Paris requires that one have the ability to evaluate those facts, note patterns and tendencies, and form opinions based on this evaluation, all with the knowledge and understanding of one’s own biases that will influence this opinion. History, philosophy, art, science, politics, culture and introspection are equally valued in La Vie Paris (celebrity-fawning less so, thank goodness). It is a celebration of all things cerebral.
- Sensuality: The Paris Life is one where every sense is stimulated in ways both large and small: Savoring a single demitasse of dark espresso or a rich croissant without guilt. Taking a moment to listen to gypsy jazz flowing out of a corner club without checking my watch. Pulling on a silky soft cashmere sweater. Spritzing on my favorite perfume. Admiring the handsome man on the street. Enjoying a compliment. Relishing a lover’s kiss. Sensuality is mindfulness, an appreciation of pleasure in all its forms in the moment that it happens, and in La Vie Paris it is ageless (Confession time: mindfulness — savoring the moment — is one of my weak points. I am by nature impatient, with a checklist of to-dos that dictates my day like an overzealous drill sergeant. Taking time to smell the roses is an ongoing challenge with which I struggle regularly).
- Style: The Paris Life means creating an exterior that accurately portrays who I am. It means giving thought to the clothes I wear and the decor I bring into my home. It means keeping my hair groomed, my nails trimmed, my house clean. Style is not a superficial endeavor aimed at showing off or keeping up. Rather, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” — Rachel Zoe
- Work-Life Balance: In the Paris Life, one works to live rather than the other way around. It is considered rude to ask what one does for a living, let alone how much money they make. While in America, a person’s life is often defined by their career (“I’m an engineer” “I’m a lawyer” “I’m a customer support specialist”), La Vie Paris demotes work to merely one aspect of life. My hobbies — homemaking, crafting, cooking, building, decorating, reading, working out, watching my garden die — define my identity far more so than do my job duties.
In short, my version of La Vie Paris can be summed up as a life of authenticity.
By giving voice to my personality through my clothes, my home and my sincere opinions, pleasures and preferences, I am being true to my authentic self. To me, that is a goal worth pursuing.
For additional information on this topic and more ways to increase La Vie Paris in your own life, I highly recommend The Simply Luxurious Life podcast “10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile“.