How French Women Do it


Cafe de Flore is a microcosm of Parisian society, and always brings out the social critic in me. Today, I found myself pondering the mystique of French women.

I was sitting on the terrace, pretending to read my fashion magazine, but really staring at the 2 tables of people in front of me. Both tables had 3 french men, but at one was seated a French woman, and at the other, an American woman. I observed, and once again my hypothesis was reaffirmed:

French women win. They win on sexiness, intellect, style, and just about every other criteria except perhaps lung capacity (though they do work the cigarette-temptress look to their advantage).

Almost as if by fate, I came across a book a few hours later, on another part of my Sunday ritual, which includes a stop in at the Village Voice on Rue Princesse. The book, entitled Fatale: How French Women Do It, is an incredible analysis of French women from the days of troubadours to maintenant.

Its author, Edith Kunz, examines every aspect of the French woman’s charm: her diet, the culture she is raised in, the ideology that shapes her, the decor of her bedroom, her role as wife and mistress, the issue of age and what she calls “the art of brilliance” which Frenchwomen use to dazzle French men. It is a fast and fascinating read, and essential to any woman who wants to understand how these frenchies become masters of their domain. Kunz even explores the disheveled hair look, or as she calls it, “seductive disarray,” (a look which I find myself adopting, more out of laziness than seduction).

Beware: This book may corrupt certain readers into taking additional lovers, becoming a mistress, or booking a vacation at a thermal spa. It will certainly inspire new perfume and lingerie purchases.

Note: click here to check out the rest of my juicy francophile entries~ :)

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16 thoughts on “How French Women Do it

  1. I lived in France for about two years. Kunz is right in his articulation of the French and the feminine. In the end, however, it is the value you place on each of the issues – of smoking, the culture, the “seductive disarray” – that will persuade you to either lothe or love the french.

    After learning to understand France I am still in two minds about her… and I really don’t like smoking…


    • Bonjour,

      I am a French woman. I never looked at myself the way this book explains it. My American friend read the book. She called me and told me that she knows all about there was a book written about me..of course she was teasing me, but she pointed out so many things that I can associate with. I now live in Florida. I have met so many men and women that seems to be hipnotize once they realize that I am a French woman. I can surely say that American men seem to love it, but American women look as if I was about to take their husband away. I think that their’s a high percentage of American women who are very insecure about their looks and specially about sexuallity. Maybe the should read the book. Not to become a French woman, but to bring their “woman power” that all women can have. To me it’s naturel, but it can be learned to be open minded, secure in their own skin, and become sensual and learn to love men and sexuallity. C’est vraiment bon d’etre avec un homme..le tien ou le mien (-:

  2. Your title is misleading. Not all French women are like the ones you describe. Come down to the provinces. The women there are equally French but in no way resemble the femmes fatales of certain Parisian arrondissements. I live near Montpellier and, walking round Auchan the other day, saw more of your average plouc than the ‘seductive disarray’-endowed ff. In fact, I didn’t see one, so it’s not FRENCH WOMEN, but SOME FRENCH WOMEN or even THE ODD FRENCH WOMAN which is what it seems from down here. But I’m sure you know that.

  3. I second Maitresse on this one… No offense, but that book is not exactly a quality read.

    But I will agred that Parisian women do have a certain something about them that intrigues all of us.

  4. petitebrigitte says:

    Admittedly, Kunz’s book is NOT your witty Sex-in-the-City-esque account of French women. At times it doesn’t dig deep enough, and the organization is a little jumbled. If however, you are looking a more straightforward history read, this is a decent beginning to a difficult topic.

    thanks for all the comments!

  5. jrpgirl says:

    From what I can tell, the famous “French femme sex appeal” comes from this: French culture encourages women to live as complete individuals, without shamefulness about their bodies, their sex appeal, their many appetites, or their intellect. That is what the rest of us can learn from French culture.

    p.s. I ADORE your blog and will read regularly. You are a great writer!

  6. i love 75 says:

    an ex new yorker (american citizen) living in paris for 6 years. i agree french women are hot. i have not had an american girlfriend since the early 90s. i decided to move here, in part, because i wanted to live near “the source”.

  7. clair-sophie says:

    To my mind , Parisian womens fought to protect their rights and you know May 1968 is still in our commum mind. They always want to show that they are not weaker than menns. We don’t have to forget that during the first and second world war , womens’ help was capital to win so French STATE reconize their rights and feminist movment appeared . ( sorry for my bad english but i tried to explain my thoughts with the few words I know )

  8. polisny says:

    Your writing was enjoyable to read. Its vocabulary was fashionably appealing, and its syntax had to it an easy, smooth flow.

    I wont bog you down with too many technicalities when I say that I disagree with French women being more beautiful, seductive, intellectual, or physically attractive than women from other countries. There is a lot to consider, such as a more objective observation on beauty in relation to ‘women’ ( just as an example of there being a lot to consider). I do not think it would be a vast statement to point out that in fashion and, more specifically, modelling, eastern Europe is by no means a new trend of faces but, a long, long-standing aesthetic marvel and masterpiece when to this ephemeral industry. Brazil, in my opinion a pretty annoying trend in France, is by no means a country of ugly women.
    Next, to talk about intellect, a word I am sure I would not have at all used; most of us who have travelled around a bit–and many of the French themselves complain of this also–know that the language programs in the public schools are really behind when to numerous countries. In Germany, for example, I am sure that we could find an online statistic that shows the level of English and other languages in German women, and the same of French women. After living in both countries, I am thoroughly confident that France would be obliterated!

    Also, to talk about attire, I find that those who are so dedicated to fashion and all clothes beautiful are this way for a reason. This is not a stereotype, obviously there are exceptions. If we were to visit and know the several models of the world, one of the first surprises we would encounter is that they do not Need fashion for the same reasons most ‘femmes fatales’ do–Oops.

    I also read someone’s comment above, mentioning quarters in Paris. This is so clearly right that I wonder how you got away with putting this up in the first place. Is there not a difference between the general crowd in the 18th and that found—oh, I dunno—the crowd next to the Eiffel tower? These are two separate quarters, with numerous ‘femmes fatales’–a mere product of the language in lieu of its ‘astoundingly beautiful women’–and yet the difference in their quality of beauty is so self-evident that its hilarious to even think about.

    Too, many ‘French’ women in areas like the fifth, just as many other parts of Paris, are of Arabic or European descent, hence a very reasonable question would and should go to you on how knew these women to be French? Several women ‘look’ French but are from any variety of countries strewn out all around the world.

    I could, just… go on and on. But, as I said, I am not really here to point out all the technicalities. Rather to bring you out of your Sunday strolls and into a European pool of women, its not exactly a mountainous field, but there is still quite a lot to see that you have seemingly missed.

    Liked the writing, though!
    Take care!

  9. sacmabols says:

    Yes! european women are way more stylish and sexual, sensual than american women.

    I live in Bucharest, Romania.The women here are like the same as in France, but french women have that distinguished mark of trade of sexiness and sensuality.

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