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Book Review: How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are

Book Review: How To Be Parisian Wherever You AreHow To Be Parisian: Wherever You Are on September 4th 2014
Pages: 255

How to Be Parisian brilliantly deconstructs the French woman's views on culture, fashion and attitude.Bohemian free-thinkers and iconoclasts, Anne Berest, Caroline De Maigret, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas cut through the myths in this gorgeous, witty guide to Parisienne savoir faire.
These modern Parisiennes say what you don't expect to hear, just the way you want to hear it. They are not against smoking in bed, and all for art, politics and culture, making everything look easy, and going against the grain.
They will take you on a first date, to a party and through a hangover. They will tell you how to be mysterious and sensual, make your boyfriend jealous, the right way to approach weddings and the gym, and they will share their address book in Paris for where to go at the end of the night, for a birthday, for a smart date, for vintage finds and much more.
Full of wit and self-deprecating humour, How To Be Parisian explains those confusing subjects of clothes, makeup, men, culture and lifestyle as only a true Parisienne can.

Book Review: How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are


I picked up How To Be Parisian because it kept cropping up on bloggers’ pages and since I’ve just moved to Paris for my year abroad, it seemed like an appropriate title to get me into Parisian life. The book itself is very glossy – hardback, thick glossy paper, lots of large high quality pictures and illustrations and funky formatting. This book is evidently meant to please the eye and that it most certainly does.

Some passages of this book are quite long and others are very bitty and short. Some parts are written in prose, others are simply bullet pointed ideas. This means that’s book is easy to pick up and put down, you don’t need to dedicate a chunk of your time to reading it. You don’t even need to read it in order as there isn’t much of a structure to it. For the most part, each two page spread has a discusses a certain part of Parisian life, so each part is short and snappy, and you can dive in and out of different sections whenever you please.

All the random aspects of life that you probably didn’t think you needed advice on are covered in this book so you get a very rounded view of how the Parisian women lives her life. There are tips on how to dress, how to shop, how to eat, how to act on a date, how to woo a man, which perfumes to wear, which colours to wear in winter etc. etc. etc. At the end of the book there are also lists of recommended places to visit, eat and shop at, which will no doubt be handy for those that are actually visiting Paris.

How To Be Parisian doesn’t seem to be aimed at any particular age group of women so is sure to be enjoyed by teenagers and retirees alike. There are some passages detailing how to behave in your youth, and others about how to behave so that you age gracefully. There are a lot of timeless tips in here, which I genuinely found to be rather inspiring. They’re the sort of tips that are handed down from mother to daughter for generations and you can get quite a good picture of the respect that these women have for their mothers.

There were some parts that I didn’t particularly agree with, especially those concerning love as the advice given almost seems to condone, and indeed encourage cheating. All the romantic advice is along the lines of ‘treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen’ and seems to involve a lot of hiding who you really are for the sake of Parisian ‘etiquette’. These parts are a little frustrating to read and I can only assume the authors haven’t heard of a little thing called feminism.

Their portrayal of Parisian women as incredibly independent women is something that I really liked, but in some passages they took it a bit too far and made it sound like all Parisian women were downright arrogant. Confusingly it seems to advocate both being yourself and keeping yourself in check on a date. This book is full of contradictions, but apparently that’s the way that Parisian women are.

Really this is just an insight into the lives of four particular ‘Parisian’ women and their thoughts on how to go about life’s daily business and no more than that. The content is lighthearted and funny, this book doesn’t take itself seriously and it is by no means a true guide to the Parisian woman. A lot of the ‘advice’ is incredibly clichΓ©d and plays off a stereotype that probably doesn’t fit most Parisian women and I think a lot of this book is just four women having fun with writing. This book would make a good gift for those who love Paris and makes for a nice, quick Saturday afternoon read. If you’re reading this for the glossy pages, you won’t be disappointed.

Check out these 28 books set in Paris for more inspiration! 

If you liked this book, you might also like:

Capture your Style by Aimee Song
The Girlboss Workbook by Sophia Amoruso
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Laura is a culture and travel blogger based in London. She studied French at Oxford University and now studies Law in London. She’s an avid reader and traveller and loves to combine the two with literary travel. Find her tips and reviews on the best reads, eats and destinations on whatshotblog.com.

Find me on: Web | Twitter



  1. Emma Iannarilli
    16th July 2015 / 10:56 AM

    If you love this, check out 2 lipsticks and a lover, it's an English women's guide to living like a Parisian and is very interesting.


    • Laura Hartley
      22nd July 2015 / 10:36 AM

      Ah thanks for the tip! Will definitely add that to my wishlist πŸ™‚

    • Laura Hartley
      22nd July 2015 / 10:38 AM

      If you're into fashion then this is something that will definitely interest you πŸ™‚

  2. Jazmen ThisGirlReadsAlot
    17th July 2015 / 12:03 AM

    I really enjoy humorous non-fiction. I might check this one out!

    • Laura Hartley
      22nd July 2015 / 10:39 AM

      It's not laugh-out-loud funny but it is certainly amusing! πŸ™‚

  3. Brandi Kosiner
    17th July 2015 / 2:41 PM

    Hmm, I don't do much NF but it does sound good for those who are big paris fans

    • Laura Hartley
      22nd July 2015 / 10:36 AM

      It is both non-fiction and fiction since I don't believe that all they say is true! haha

  4. Paige Bryan
    20th July 2015 / 12:33 PM

    I am on the same page as you, I keep seeing this book around too. I love hearing personal views on book, and so far they have all been positive! It's a bit different to what I would usually read but might give it a go once I've finished my current one! Paige x

    • Laura Hartley
      22nd July 2015 / 10:38 AM

      Yeah most of the reviews have been positive, but like I said, this is very much a style over substance kind of book! Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  5. 19th January 2016 / 2:50 PM

    Not heard of this book before, but it does sound like something I would read so will have to look out for it

  6. 19th January 2016 / 4:54 PM

    I have read this book on my Kindle and I found it OKish

    • 20th January 2016 / 10:34 AM

      Content wise, me too. I feel like half the point of this book is how it looks and feels though therefore reading it on Kindle must take that ‘glossy’ aspect away from it!

  7. 19th January 2016 / 6:21 PM

    Hmm it sounds like an interesting read. Parisian women are very independent but that does not mean that they are arrogant.

  8. Bex Smith
    19th January 2016 / 6:22 PM

    This seems like an interesting book. My friend is obsessed with Paris so may show her this post!

    • 20th January 2016 / 10:35 AM

      This would be the perfect book for anyone who’s obsessed with Paris!!

  9. Elizabeth
    20th January 2016 / 7:09 AM

    An intriguing book! Something perhaps to read before I visit Paris next. πŸ™‚

    • 20th January 2016 / 10:35 AM

      Definitely do! It has some fairly good tips about how to deal with French people and what to expect!

  10. 20th January 2016 / 1:01 PM

    This sounds like a really interesting read, I like the sound of the fact that it can be read/enjoyed by any age.

  11. Tanya Brannan
    20th January 2016 / 1:32 PM

    This sounds like a fabulous book, very much something I would like to read! The impression you give is such a good one, that ive already turned my kindle on to look it up!! Xx

  12. Renna Creighton
    21st January 2016 / 12:03 PM

    Sounds like an interesting read. Something that most people can enjoy. Thanks for sharing

  13. Jessica Dearnley
    21st January 2016 / 7:06 PM

    This sounds like such a good book. Like you I have seen this on so many blogs and Instagram pages, I need to read it.

  14. 22nd January 2016 / 10:59 PM

    I came across few reviews of this book already and it seems this title keeps coming back. I think I will have to read the book too πŸ™‚

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