21 Jul 2014

Living in France: Feeling French?

Paris, Place des Vosges, Living in France, Vicki Archer

Living in France… What makes you feel “French”? What changes you?

Living away from your birthplace does re-align your thinking… it’s impossible not too… but I believe the revisions are positive… it’s important to adapt, to be open to new ways of doing things… otherwise we may as well stay put.

It’s not about loosing who we are or where we have come from… home is always home… but more about growing and adapting.

Provence, where I have spent a large proportion of my time in the last 15 years has most certainly altered me.

What are the differences? What are the mannerisms that I have inevitably picked up?

I have learned patience.

France is a bureaucratic juggle at times… and as much as we love her… she can test even the most generous of natures.

I have learned to hold my breath, count to ten and wait… Waiting is the long suffering partner 0f patience… they are a necessary and essential team to draw upon when living in France.

The importance and the benefits of taking time.

This is different to being patient… this is about pleasure, about opening the eyes to beauty and appreciating the here and now.

Being in the moment.

It sounds so obvious and easy, but it’s not. How often we are involved in one activity only to be thinking of another.

Taking time for the simple pleasures is a lesson I continually learn from the French…and one that I am most grateful for.

Food has become much more predominant in life.

Lunch is a meal I rarely go without… or grab… eating on the run is not the French way.

Dining… the art of dining even if it’s two lettuce leaves and a shaving of carrot… is an experience, one to be savoured and a time in the day to stop, to enjoy.

On the flip side… Who would have thought that the name of ten varieties of cheese could roll off the tongue so readily?

That so much time could be spent discussing menus with butchers or that seasonal produce could become dinner party conversation?

Language changes… the way you speak and write.

It’s impossible not to be affected by the cadence of the French language, to become more descriptive… to embellish.

It’s inevitable that questions are ended with an answer. The French often do that… answer their own question with the negative, “non”, which really means yes.

Living in France can’t help but bring out the romantic in you.

France means Paris and I believe to this day that it is the most romantic city on earth.

Symmetry… French design has made me appreciate the classic… the relevance of the pair.

The simple is elevated to a whole new league in France… through symmetry, the simple becomes grand.

The eclectic in design… that new and old work beautifully together, that courage and originality is applauded.

The way French women dress and present themselves has influenced my sense of fashion and my thoughts on beauty and ageing in our modern world.

The French way has taught me self-confidence and an appreciation of what I have rather than what I don’t or can’t have.

And lastly…

Once upon a time my dream would be to play in Prada… now you will find me browsing in the French pharmacy, an Aladdin’s Cave for beauty… :) xv

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In This Post:



Anita Rivera

Oh Vicki, so well-written is this post about a subject very dear to my heart.

You first mention about moving away from your own country. I know. My first experience with “leaving” was when I moved away from my native state of California to study in Boston, Massachusetts with my husband. After having announced to our families that we were leaving Los Angeles, my dear father said to me, “YOU ARE LEAVING YOUR PEOPLE?” and for years, there was a bit of animosity between some family members and myself who could not understand that “I left them” – but I did not leave them. I grew. I did not slough off my Mexican-American heritage, I added a new dimension to my schema…then it happened again when I studied French. Some family members were shocked that I did not study Spanish. Why French? Because I love it.

Adaptation and adding knowledge to your thinking, perspective is what happens when you adopt a new country/state/focus of study. And in regards to France, I learned everything you mention above. Going to Monoprix while I lived in Nice meant I needed to not hurry to my next destination, because waiting in the check-out line meant allowing the cashier to converse with every customer ahead of me. When it was my turn, she/he would also converse with me. The calculated use of water, toilet paper (teehee) and other resources have stayed with me, for IT ALL MAKES SENSE to conserve. To stop and linger, to TALK to people at the butcher’s about food, it all is so human.

France is my place to stop and breath and live a little longer.

Hugs, Anita

julie freidman

Having lived in France a total of nearly 4 years out of 9, I have definitely changed, and for the better. No nicer compliment can be asked of me than ” Are you French?”
Anita, we lived in Nice for 6 months and also enjoyed our Monoprix visits.
The little man who sits outside on the corner of the street with his small dog and was always so polite when you dropped off some water or groceries.
How I miss France when I am not there. My dream is to retire there.
Vive la difference!


At this stage of my life, it all sounds so attractive…patience, relishing moments, romance…slowing down to smell the roses. I love my heritage and my home, but a new adventure would be lovely. Today, I am honoring a Frenchmen and his company which have made a huge difference in my life. Since I do not live there…experiencing France from here will have to do!


Vicki, I think that the immersion into a different countries culture would be such a great experience. The willingness to open ones eyes to the world’s view!

The Arts by Karena
Europe: Simply Irresistible!

david terry

Well, it’s good to see that I’m not the only person who loves browsing French pharmacies. I don’t know how many times Herve and I (for thosewho don’t know, my partner’s French) have gotten stuck somewhere (the rental car isn’t ready, someone we were supposed to meet missed his/her train,etcetera…) and found ourselves facing seemingly-interminable boredom while we wait….usually in some non-quaint, utterly pedestrian small town. I never really mind it, since I simply look for the nearest drugstore/pharmacy sign….I can poke around in those places (or grocery stores, for that matter) for hours. As a Frenchman and a doctor, Herve doesn’t really “get” the supposed intrigue/appeal of French drugstores….just as his mother obviously thinks I’m a bit loony-toons for regarding the Monoprix as a sort of free-admission Disneyland. In any case….when in France, I suppose I qualify as an easily entertained and certainly cheap date. —–david terry wwwdavidterryart.com

Judy Bales

Hello Vicki
Enjoyed your post! I agree and appreciate everything about France except the pushy, tailgating, and speeding drivers on the narrow roads here! Los Angeles doesn’t even compare!


So true, Judy… I don’t know what happens to them when they get behind the wheel… but they are fearless!

Jane Halgren

I love the pace of Paris. It feels so natural. People walk and observe( whether it is window shopping or appraising each other.) But it is unhurried and enjoyed. In fact it is a sport. They appreciate the beauty and effort to please the eye in everything from the architecture, landscape, food, to personal appearance. It is an incredible visual feast.I definitely agree with you that Paris teaches you to live in the here and now and treasure every bit of it.

Connie murphy

Vicki. What a pleasure it is for me to read your writings on France and especially Provence. My husband and I have been visiting L’isle sur la Sorgue for 20 years. It captured us wrapping its French arms around us and holding us dearly. We visited it for the first time on a bike trip and made a vow to returned. We ended purchasing our mas just outside of the village and spent so many wonderful times there. Unfortunately,our life changed with the onset of alziemers for my husband. We sold our beloved L’Hirondelle. I haven’t been there for three years and will return for the month of October. My husband is now in a care facility and I am able to visit our many friends and relive the beautiful memories that were created there. Our orchard, vegetable garden, so many lunches on the terrace and living the Provençal life are instilled in our hearts and will always be a big part of who we are. Thank you for being my Provençal friend. Connie


Hello Vicki,
I completly fell in love with your blog. The photos are gorgeous and the information is relevant. You have a very poectic vision of France and the French art of living.

Best regards

Jeanette WEBB (née Angel)

Researching a trip to Provence for my birthday next April, I came across your stylish blog Vicki. Inspiring! I loved your books as well.
Such a long way from our wonderful black watch tartan school uniforms!


Dear Vicki, I will be 80 soon and have tried to comment,
still on blogger but that and Gmail is all I do. Can’t keep up with passwords.
I just keep clicking till I found this. Please visit me and give me a spot to visit and comment. Your long time friend..yvonne

Nadine Campbell

I found Vicki Archer’s blog last year while planning a trip to Provence and have been following it daily ever since! I have been to France many times and absolutely adore it! Paris is my home away from home and I try to get there once a year. Until last year I had never travelled to Provence but it had been my dream for years ( I think since I read “A Year in Provence”). Having discovered this wonderful blog I felt as though I met someone who was on the same wavelength as I. It was so informative and really a big help as far as where to go and especially how to fine tune my wardrobe for a stay in the French countryside. The trip was magical and I hope to return again and again and I also look forward to my daily dose of everything French from Vickie!

Becky Burgess

Love your writings, love France, they take time to enjoy all life has to offer us. Thanks for all your news to think about.

Janet Schmoll

I read about your more than generous offer of a week at your home in Provence at My French Country Home today and immediately headed over to your blog to subscribe. What a dream that would be to spend a week in France! Several years ago friends rented a home in Il-sur-le Sorge (I’m not sure of the spelling) and invited us to spend a week with them. Though the weather in late May was surprisingly not too hospitable, we loved our stay, and I long to return.

Johanna Roussel

I am thrilled to bring the joy of all things French into my daily life. I look forward to checking my email every day for inspiration.

Johanna Roussel

I am thrilled to see the many facets of things French. I will be watching everyday for your inspiration.

Mary MacKenzie

You’re living my dream. We will give serious consideration to Le Petit Bijou for our 2018 trip to Provence.

GT Russo-Larsson

Merveilleux! I just came across your celebration of all things french! I work in Los Angeles for a Paris based French luxury shoe designer. Your content collection is fabulous inspiration. Obviously you are a consummate francophile with a flair for creating a sense of connection around a mutual affection for France and the unique French take on life! My travels in France have included Paris, Lyon, Dijon, Le Cote D’Azur, Les Alps Françaises, Deauville/Trouville and a brief magical time in Provence. I would be thrilled to discover the Le Petit Bijou in Saint Rémy de Provence. Please enter me in the drawing! Merci Bien!


A psychic told me that my most immediate past life was in Paris about 150 years ago, which might explain my desire to surround myself with French EVERYTHING. I would love to see if those feelings of belonging would reimerge in St. Reny. What a blog that would make!

Rebecca Huebner

Somehow I am no longer receiving this particular site that I have enjoyed enormously. When I attempt to register again it says that it already has my email. Is there something you can do so that I will once again be receiving this Weekly??????


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