Book Review: La Parisienne


Ever since we began dating three years ago, my Paris-born partner has gotten in the habit of regularly gifting me books about how to be more like a parisienne (perhaps dropping a hint? Joking). I’ve reviewed a few of them here – including Jeanne Damas’ ‘A Paris‘ and Caroline de Maigret’s ‘How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are‘ – and decided that in an effort to begin regularly publishing on this blog again, I’d review a few of my recent gifts, starting with ‘La Parisienne’ by famous French fashionistas Ines de la Fressange and Sophie Gachet. 

This New York Time’s best-seller was released over 10 years ago, and the new edition has been extensively edited and updated. While I never read the original version so cannot compare, the new version apparently comes with new looks, advice, and recommendations for shops, restaurants, and more to visit in Paris!

The book is divided into four sections. The first dissects the myth of the parisienne by describing her attitude, breaking down outfits (with authour Ines de la Fressange front and center), and giving extensive style advice and recommendations for finding the perfect items. They even provide shopping checklists and store recommendations in the French capital.

While I found some of the advice to be pretty stereotypical – such as its worship of basics like a trench, moto jacket, and blue sweater, which I’ve seen in every book even mildly related to French fashion  – I did like the creative outfit combination recommendations and discovered a few boutiques and shops I didn’t know about. I also found their part on outfits for different scenarios very funny, such as what to wear when it rains, when visiting the Eiffel Tower, when spending a weekend in la campagne – even when having Christmas dinner!

The second section is dedicated to French beauty, complete with the French attitude towards beauty and skincare, product and skincare routine recommendations, makeup application tips, and beauty faux-pas. It also gives recommendations for perfumeries, salons, spas, and more. As an avid French skincare enthusiast, I really appreciated this part and its advocacy for a healthy skincare and beauty regime. It goes into great detail and deciphers a number of French beauty secrets, complete with plenty of specific product recommendations that you can find at the pharmacie, which I really loved, as most books I read in the past only skimmed on the subject or never went as in-depth.

The third part focuses on the home, covering topics such as how to decorate like a Parisian, how to dine and entertain like a Parisian, and ideas for French-inspired gifts. I was very pleasantly surprised by this part as it has two sections that cover topics I don’t see often in this type of book: one on how to live green that encourages slow fashion, biking when possible, and shopping at local markets rather than big grocers, and another on how to best organize teeny-tiny Parisian apartments. As an eco-conscious consumer who lives in less than 20m2, this part was a goldmine of information!

The fourth section is dubbed simply “Only in Paris”, and covers outings and walks in Paris, museum and library recommendations, activities and shops for children, and restaurant recommendations. While I’ve lived in Paris over three years now, I hadn’t been or even heard of some of the museums and restaurants mentioned here, such as the Musée national Eugène Delacroix, and am eager to check out these charming spots that definitely have an air of being known to locals only.

My final thoughts? While I think this book would be most enjoyed by someone who actually lives in France or visits often, so that they can take advantage of the great recommendations of different adresses in Paris, I also think it’s a must-have for any francophile interested in learning more about what it’s really like to dress, live, shop, and more as a real Parisian. Most books I read in the past on the topic were pretty stereotypical or didn’t have anything new to say beyond the clichés, so I really appreciated how original and authentic this book is. What’s more, it’s very smartly written, never short on detail, and filled with adorable illustrations and beautiful photos. A great addition to the bookshelf of any parisienne – whether you actually live in Paris or not!




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